Suspect Pawankumar Gahalon (24) was in the out patient department (OPD) of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) at Rohtak in Haryana the day a masked man threw acid at Delhi nursing graduate Preeti Rathi at Bandra Terminus,his father Azadsingh has claimed.
Pawankumar of Rohtak was arrested by a team of Mumbai Police on May 8 and brought to the city the following day. Preeti had told police she saw him at Nizamuddin railway station the day she left for Mumbai to join Army Medical College as a lieutenant.
Azadsingh alleged police arrested his son based on a phone call he made to Preetis sister to enquire about her health a few days after the attack.
Police say his face resembles the sketch of the attacker.
Azadsingh,however,claimed Pawankumar did not step out of Rohtak the past four months.
He had gone to OPD of PGIMS to purchase medicines on the morning of May 2. Several neighbours have told police he was home on May 2. Had he not been in Rohtak that day,I would have also suspected him,but there are so many eyewitnesses, he said.
Azadsingh rued Pawankumar could have been cleared had he been able to get CCTV footage of May 2 from PGIMS.
The other suspect Satyam has been cleared by police because he provided CCTV footage to show he was in the chemistry laboratory at Delhi University on the day of the attack. But PGIMS told us CCTV cameras in its OPD were not functional. It is sheer bad luck of my son, he said.
Pawankumar,a BTech student at Bhiwani Institute of Technology and Science,is awaiting result of his examination. While he travelled 45 km daily to college he visited his aunt in Narela,Delhi,where she lived close to the Rathis.
Preeti is older to Pawankumar and he is also friendly with her siblings. But for the past three years,Preeti lived in a hostel in Batra College and only came home in the summer. They had limited contact. When he came to know she had been attacked,he became concerned and called her sister to enquire about her health. Police jumped to conclusion based on that one phone call. I do not understand what he did not wrong, Azadsingh said.
Vijay Dhopavkar,senior inspector,Bandra GRP,said: A magistrate will hear our request to subject Pawankumar to a lie detector test. He is saying he is innocent but we are convinced something will come up in lie detector test. We have not recorded statement of his father.
Azadsingh said his son,whose police custody ends Friday,was ready for a lie detector test.
He has done nothing wrong and has nothing to hide. He said he will take the test. Police,meanwhile,are making a short list of suspects based on call detail records of Preeti.
We have made a database of everyone who called Preeti and are analysing their call histories. We have made a short list of suspects but are further narrowing it down based on motive. The investigation now rests on technical evidence. We have also sought a list of passengers on all trains between Mumbai and Delhi that day and will approach Delhi Police,if need be, Dhopavkar said.