Vikram Singh Puar, the maharaja of erstwhile Dewas princely state, continues to be on the run since he was named in a murder case in June 2015 even as his 12 co-accused were acquitted on Saturday.
A Dewas court had granted Vikram, 27, anticipatory bail to attend his Rajyavarohan (coronation) as per royal tradition when his father, former BJP minister and Dewas maharaja Tukoji Rao Puar, was on death bed. It was argued that the erstwhile royal family’s reputation would be sullied if he was arrested and accompanied by police to his father’s funeral.
One Pratap Lodhi had died two days after Vikram had allegedly attacked him after an argument over ownership of a piece of land. The other accused were arrested but Vikram remained at large. On June 15, 2015, an anticipatory bail plea was filed on Vikram’s behalf arguing that Tukoji was brain dead and that the funeral and the coronation cannot take place without Vikram. Vikram was crowned before his father’s cremation on June 20, 2015. Vikram disappeared after his bail period ended. He was named absconding in the chargesheet while the other 12 accused were tried.
Additional Sessions Judge Joginder Singh acquitted the 12 saying there was no evidence against them. As many as 36 witnesses turned hostile and failed to identify the accused, who had scuffled with Lodhi.
Vikram’s lawyer, Ashok Varma, said that the police version of the murder was not corroborated. He added that the allegations against the accused were fabricated. He alleged that Vikram was named in the case as a result of intra-BJP rivalry. He alleged that a minister, who belongs to the region, had called an official asking him to frame Vikram. Varma said that the official (nayab tehsildar)’s statement was part of the evidence.
Varma said that he would explore legal options after getting a copy of Saturday’s judgement.