With an intricate chain of events and mostly circumstantial evidence to establish the 2008 murder of matka king Suresh Bhagat and six others,the prosecution relied heavily on approvers Kiran Pujari and Shaikh Azimuddin. They have been released on bail and will no longer face charges in the case.
While Pujari,who allegedly participated in the conspiracy and provided legal expertise to avoid arrests,turned approver in October 2011,Shaikh,who owned the dumper that killed Bhagat,followed suit in April 2012. Bhagats former wife Jaya Chheda and son Hitesh,both convicted of the murder,repeatedly tried to lure them with money.
On at least two occasions,money was offered to Pujari and another important witness, said investigating officer Ramesh Mahale.
Days after Pujari turned approver,Chhedas sister Asha Bhatt allegedly offered him Rs 1 crore. Cops sent Pujaris friend Rahul Kudtarkar to collect the amount and foiled the attempt.
With the courts permission,we have filed a chargesheet against Bhatt, Mahale said. Another complaint was registered after witness Ravindra Sawant approached police claiming he was bribed Rs 50,000 to turn hostile.
Chheda and Hitesh were under strict surveillance in prison. The mother-son cited a series of health complications and spent nearly a year in hospitals,from where they were reportedly running their matka business.
However,no fresh case was registered based on these allegations made by the prosecution and jail authorities.