The Thane sessions court last week refused to grant bail to a man accused of killing his neighbour for allegedly performing black magic on his wife and molesting her in March.
Judge Y V Jadhav rejected the bail application filed by Kurar resident Kanhiaya Gupta, fearing that he would flee the state before the trial commences. The police had traced Gupta (26) to Hyderabad in March, days after he allegedly murdered his neighbour Ramesh Chanra (35) and dumped his body in a clump of bushes in Mira Road.
Gupta lived in Kurar village with his wife and infant son Ayush. According to the prosecution, one-year-old Ayush had fallen seriously ill in February, 2016 and was not responding to any medical treatment. It was then that Chanra, a tailor working at a cloth manufacturing unit in Kandivali east, offered to cure him by performing an exorcism, the prosecution claimed.
The police said that on February 26, 2016, Chanra asked Gupta to leave his wife and Ayush with him for a few hours. When Gupta returned an hour and a half later, he allegedly spotted Chanra touching his wife, who was undressed, inappropriately.
While Gupta’s wife had claimed that Chanra had incapacitated her by casting a spell and molested her, no complaint was made of the incident, the police said.
However, in a confession recorded by the police after his arrest, Gupta allegedly claimed to have nursed a grudge against Chanra ever since. According to the police chargesheet, Gupta had chased Chanra that day after sending his wife to her parents’ house.
Gupta later folded his grocery business and moved to Oman for a short working stint, and returned to Mumbai on March 8. According to the chargesheet, Gupta decided to settle scores with Chanra and asked his younger brother Prabhu to help him.
“Prabhu Gupta approached Chanra on the night of March 9 and asked him to accompany him to Akurli Road, Kandivali east, under the pretext of purchasing medicines. However, he instead led him to his brother, who was waiting there,” stated the chargesheet.
The prosecution said that Gupta asked his brother to leave, saying that he wanted to speak to Chanra in private. “The accused asked the deceased to remove the spell he had cast on his wife. But Chanra claimed that it was too late now and that he could do nothing about it,” the charegsheet added.
The police claimed that Gupta convinced Chanra to accompany him to Srushti Complex in Mira Road to further discuss the situation. However, Gupta allegedly led Chanra to an isolated wooded area where he repeatedly hit him on the head with a broken helmet and strangled him to death.
Gupta, the police added, fled to a cousin’s home in Kurar, where he stayed the night before boarding a train the next morning to Hyderabad. After the Thane Rural Police Crime Branch identified Chanra’s body, they swiftly zeroed in on Gupta, following a confession from his brother.
After the police filed its chargesheet in June, Gupta’s lawyers — R C Mishra and Prabhakar Tripathi — filed a bail application, arguing that the police’s case was based only upon circumstantial evidence and an extra-judicial confession from Gupta. Mishra added that there were no eye-witnesses to the crime.
However, in his order, Sessions Judge Jadhav took a grim view of the fact that Gupta had fled to Hyderabad soon after the commission of the crime and declined to free him.