Seven years after Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya was murdered in cold blood,the sessions court is likely to pronounce judgment Friday against 22 people,including suspended senior police inspectors Pradeep Sharma and Pradeep Suryavanshi,accused of killing him in a fake encounter. Seven police officers,seven constables and eight civilians faced trial in the case.
The prosecution had called the case extraordinary. It alleged Chhota Rajan aide Lakhan Bhaiya was killed in an orchestrated encounter on November 11,2006,in Versova,Andheri.
While the victims brother lawyer Ramprasad approached different fora claiming he was killed in a fake encounter,it was only in February 2008 that the Bombay High Court ordered a magisterial inquiry.
In August 2009,the magistrate submitted a report to the HC,which stated that Lakhan Bhaiya was,in fact,murdered in cold blood. The court later appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT),which arrested Sharma and 21 others.
Making the case murkier,key witness Anil Bheda was found murdered and his body was recovered from Manor in Thane district. Around eight witnesses turned hostile.
With over 100 witness examined,the prosecution had heavily relied on star witness Anil Bhedas wife Arunas statement. According to the police,Bheda was the sole eyewitness of the fake encounter. On March 18,2011,he was summoned by a sessions court to record his evidence. He,however,did not turn up. The same day,police provided a DNA report to the HC confirming that the bones found at Manor were that of Bheda.
The death of Bheda,who was believed to be with Lakhan Bhaiya a day before he was killed,upset the trial. The prosecution then relied on Arunas deposition to build the chain of events.
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