Jayanti Gohil, 57, who was arrested in the 2002 Best Bakery case and the 2007 Ajmer blast case, died of prolonged heart ailment at the Arthur Road Central Jail in Mumbai on Sunday night.
Though he was acquitted in 2004 by a Vadodara court in the Best Bakery case, he had gone underground when the retrial began in Mumbai for the same case. Subsequently, he was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials from Vadodara. Later, he was discharged from the Ajmer blast case and handed him over to the Maharashtra ATS in 2013.
However, he continued to languish in the Mumbail jail in connection with the Best Bakery case as he was on the run during the retrial of the case in Mumbai.
His family, residing in Vadodara’s Hanuman Tekri, home to Best Bakery, blames the Arthur Road jail authorities for denying Gohil’s timely treatment despite several pleas.
The family now fears for the life of Gohil’s son, Ramesh, who is also lodged in the Arthur Road jail as an undertrial in the Ajmer blast case.
Gohil’s wife Champa has been inconsolable since receiving the news of his death. Champa had been fasting for the last seven days after her son Ramesh sent a message of his father’s deteriorating condition last week.
According to the family, Gohil had undergone multiple heart surgeries at Mumbai’s J J Hospital since 2013 and had not received adequate medical attention. The family denied the claim of the Jail Authorities that Gohil died of cancer.
His daughter Sonal said, “My father had undergone heart surgeries and the jail authorities simply shifted him back to prison within two days. He was denied medical attention. He never had cancer nor we were informed about any such ailment for all this while. Every time we requested a meeting with him, we were asked to come for the court hearing that never took place on the designated date.”
Sonal said her father had told her in the last meeting at Mumbai’s J J Hospital in February that jail authorities had not given him food for over four weeks. “He told me they were giving him one packet of glucose biscuits dipped in water everyday. If the jail authorities had given him medical aide, he would have survived,” she said.
The family also said that it was helpless about being unable to get parole for their elder son Ramesh to be present for the last rites of his father in Vadodara. Gohil’s younger son Dilip and nephew Jaswant, were in Mumbai to complete the formalities of claiming Gohil’s body.
Jaswant said, “We are unable to file an application of parole for Ramesh as the authorities have delayed the process of releasing my uncle’s body. He passed away on Sunday evening and the authorities asked us to be present in Mumbai by Monday morning, but the formalities began only at 3 pm on Monday, including the autopsy.
We have been unable to seek parole for Ramesh due to the delay in issuing death certificate for my uncle. The jail authorities are claiming that he died of cancer. It is a lie to cover up their negligence for his heart ailment.”
The family in Vadodara is now awaiting the arrival of the body to complete the last rites on Tuesday.
Although Gohil and his son Ramesh were arrested in May 2013 by NIA from Vadodara in connection with Ajmer blasts, NIA Inspector General R Shastri told The Indian Express that the duo were discharged from the case soon after and handed over to the Maharashtra ATS in the Best Bakery case, in which they were absconding from the retrial conducted in Mumbai between 2004-2006.
Shastri said, “The two persons – Jayanti Gohil and Ramesh Gohil – are no longer accused in any case of the NIA. They were handed over to the Maharashtra ATS. We have been informed that he prima facie appears to have died of cancer.”
Arthur Road Jail Superintendent Ahir Rao said the father-son duo were awaiting commencement of the Best Bakery retrial in their cases, while officials of the Maharashtra ATS said they would “check records” about the accused.