News item on sex tape sealed Bhanwari’s fate

CBI believes murder plan started taking shape within minutes of the telecast.

Written by Apurva | Jaipur | Published: March 4, 2012 12:38 am

The plan to kill Bhanwari Devi was first hatched when a news item was broadcast that said there existed a video CD purportedly showing a senior Cabinet minister and a Jodhpur health worker in a “compromising position”,the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) believes.

Those accused in the case include former Cabinet minister Mahipal Maderna,who figures in the video with Bhanwari,Congress MLA Malkhan Singh,the father of her youngest daughter,and Indira Bishnoi,Malkhan’s sister who allegedly came up with the idea to make a sex tape with Maderna. Sahiram Bishnoi,who executed Maderna’s decision to kill Bhanwari,was actually Malkhan’s henchman. Bhanwari was abducted and killed on September 1,2011.

According to the chargesheet,Sohanlal stole a copy of the video CD late in July 2011 and handed it over to some mediapersons. The chargesheet reads: “On July 23,2011,some people connected to the media discussed the video CD in Jaipur and the head of ETV Rajasthan showed the video to them as well. That night,ETV Rajasthan broadcast news of the video CD without naming anyone in their ticker.” However,the CBI also stated that the news was taken off the air a few minutes later and that “the channel made no further follow-up of the news”.

A senior CBI official,who did not wish to be named,told The Sunday Express: “Those few minutes of news changed the game in this case. It was the final tipping point for Maderna and call detail records (CDR) show a plan to kill Devi began to take shape after just half an hour.” He added that the next day,Hindi daily Punjab Kesri carried news of the video CD and on July 25,the accused resolved to kill her. “The media played no part in the conspiracy to kill Devi,but were used by some accused to manipulate Maderna,” he said.

The chargesheet adds: “The editor of the Hindi daily clarified that he was present when the head of ETV Rajasthan showed the video CD and it was on this basis that his newspaper carried the story. The newspaper does no follow-up stories either.”

The Sunday Express has accessed the record of phone exchanges between the accused after the news was broadcast on July 23,2011,at 8 pm.

July 23,2011

8.03 pm: An agitated Maderna calls Sahiram after watching the news item

8.05 pm: Sahiram asks Sohanlal about how the video went public. Sohanlal lies and claims it could have been Bhanwari herself

Sohanlal then speaks to Bhanwari for a moment and immediately calls back Sahiram

Sahiram speaks to Bhanwari who is outraged about the leak

Bhanwari then calls some people she knows in Jaipur to stop the broadcast

At the same time,Sahiram speaks to Sohanlal who says Bhanwari was sometimes demanding Rs 50 lakh and sometimes Rs 1 crore. He also says Bhanwari warned him that she had more copies of the video CD

Sahiram speaks to Maderna to give him an update

Sohanlal speaks to Malkhan’s sister Indira at 8.26 pm

Sahiram and Sohanlal speak to each other again at 8.32 pm

Sohanlal-Bhanwari and Sohanlal-Indira exchange several phone calls

July 24,2011

Maderna speaks to one Pratap Singh at 12.30 am

Sohanlal and Sahiram speak at 5.19 am

Sahiram and Maderna speak to each other immediately after that.

On July 25,following reports about the video CD in Punjab Kesri and another newspaper,Adhikar,Indira Bishnoi met Sahiram in her house in Jodhpur. According to the chargesheet: “Indira Bishnoi told Sahiram that Bhanwari possessed sex tapes of Maderna and Malkhan and this situation could be disastrous for both families involved. Indira told Sahiram that her relative Sohanlal was also working on a plan to lure Devi to Abu Road,kill her and make it look like an accident.

According to the CBI,CDRs show that Sahiram spoke to Maderna on his phone about this plan and immediately afterwards,Malkhan and Maderna,for the first time,spoke on the phone at 8.30 pm for 1,600 seconds when they possibly resolved to have Bhanwari killed.

Maderna,Malkhan to be shifted from Jodhpur jail,govt tells HC

JAIPUR: The state government on Saturday told the Rajasthan High Court that former state cabinet minister Mahipal Maderna and Congress MLA Malkhan Singh Bishnoi would be shifted out of the Jodhpur jail shortly. The CBI had requested the transfer of the two politicians — both named accused in the Bhanwari Devi case chargesheet — claiming they were intimidating witnesses and putting pressure on the agency.

Rajasthan Additional Advocate General Anand Purohit told The Sunday Express that the government would soon shift Maderna and Malkhan. “Though no date was given nor where they would be shifted,the government told the HC that both would be shifted out fast,” he said. The court also quashed the habeas corpus petition Bhanwari’s husband Amarchand had filed in September. It also dismissed a petition filed by accused Indira Bishnoi’s lawyer,who asked to modify their earlier application. Indira,who is Malkhan Bishnoi’s sister,is also accused in the same case.

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