Nearly 20 years after the alleged kidnapping of businessman Gautam Adani, the owner of Adani Group, for ransom, an Ahmedabad court on Friday acquitted two main accused — former gangsters Fazl-ur-Rehman alias Fazlu and Bhogilal Darji alias Mama. Rehman, who is facing several other criminal charges, is at present lodged at Sabarmati Central Jail, while Darji is out on bail.
Kunal N Shah, the lawyer of the two accused, said that Additional District Judge D P Patel acquitted his clients as the prosecution had failed to establish the kidnapping and their roles in it.
According to Shah, the victims, including Adani, never turned up for deposition despite repeated summons issued by the court. “The summons were issued twice to Adani but he didn’t turn up. Besides, the witnesses, including the investigating officers, didn’t testify clearly of what exactly had happened,” Shah said.
On January 1, 1998, Adani and one Shantilal Patel were allegedly kidnapped from Mohammadpura while they were on their way in a car. It was alleged that a scooter forced the car to stop, and then a group of men came in a van and abducted both of them.
Then Sarkhej police Sub-Inspector R K Patel had lodged an FIR against nine accused, including Rehman, Darji, Mohammed alias Raja Javed, Jayesh Ratilal Darji, Riaz, Akil, among others. It was alleged that the accused sought Rs 15 crore as ransom, and after they received the amount, Adani and Patel were released.
The chargesheet was filed in 2009 and charges were framed in 2014 against the duo. The charges were framed under IPC sections 365 (kidnapping), 144 (unlawful assembly) and Arms Act among others.
Originally from Bihar, Fazlu, in mid 50s, is one of the most-feared extortionists and underworld don, who is reported to be a rival of fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar. He was active in Gujarat in early 1990s and early 2000s, and is facing similar charges in various districts.