Five years after matka king Suresh Bhagat was killed in an orchestrated accident at Alibaug in Raigad,his former wife Jaya Chhedda,her paramour Suhas Roge,son Hitesh and three others Harish Mandvikar,Kiran Amli and Pravin Shetty were convicted Friday of murder and conspiracy. Kiran Pujari and Shaikh Azimuddin were pardoned after they turned approvers.
Sessions judge S G Shete will pronounce the quantum of punishment Monday,when the prosecution is expected to press for death to all convicts.
The prosecution claimed Bhagat and six others were killed in an orchestrated accident on June 13,2008. Bhagat was returning from an Alibaug court when Shetty allegedly rammed a dumper into his SUV. While the defence argued the Alibaug- Murud stretch was prone to accidents,the prosecution proved the collision was deliberate.
Special public prosecutor Kalpana Chavan examined 80 witnesses to build the case that Jaya,Roge and Hitesh eyed Bhagats matka business,which was reportedly worth more than Rs 50 crore. Six witnesses turned hostile. In the absence of eyewitness,Bhagats letter dated March 13,2008,to Mumbai Police Commissioner proved an important piece of evidence.
Bhagat had claimed threat to his life and named Jaya,Hitesh,Roge and Pujari in the letter, said investigating officer Ramesh Mahale. While Pujari helped establish the conspiracy,Azimuddin helped build the scene of the crime, he said. Prosecution claimed Jaya gave a Rs 45-lakh supari (contract) to Roge,an Arun Gawli gang member,who hired Mandvikar for the hit. Bhagats niece Tanuja,a complainant in the case,said,Finally,justice has prevailed. I am extremely happy police could prove my uncle was killed and it was not an accident. Even after several attempts to buy witnesses,the accused could not damage our case.