A 32-year-old gangster who was lodged at the Vadodara Central Jail since his arrest in August in an extortion case was killed in an alleged attack by another prisoner on Wednesday.
The gangster, Azharuddin Sindhi alias Ajju Kaniya, is from old city area of Panigate where security was tightened following the incident. As the news spread, several traders in the old city area closed shops.
According to police, the accused, Sunil alias Sahil Mahesh Parmar, 22, who has been jailed in a murder case, attacked Kaniya with a sharp metal object when the duo came face-to-face and had an argument that led to a fight on the jail premises. Earlier, the Kaniya and Parmar had an argument on October 13 that was solved after the intervention of jail staff, they said.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, ‘C’ division, Megha Tewar, said, “The accused is imprisoned in a 2018 murder case registered with Panigate police station. He attacked Ajju Kaniya on the neck with a sharp metal piece that fell from the roof, inflicting a deep wound of about two inches, which resulted in (Kaniya’s) death.”
“Another inmate who intervened also sustained minor injuries along with the jail staff who tried to separate Parmar and Kaniya. We are awaiting reports from the jail and a probe is under way,” Tewar added.
Tewar said that while Parmar was in barrack number 5 of the yard, Kaniya was in barrack number 12. “The two had a quarrel after each of them felt that the other was trying to wield power in the area. The argument turned into a heated fight on Tuesday and when the two came face-to-face on Wednesday, it ended up in the attack,” Tewar said.
Kaniya, who was apprehended in an extortion case registered at Wadi police station in June, had given police a slip during the mandatory Covid-19 testing before his arrest.
Later, the Vadodara Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) nabbed Kaniya from a guesthouse at Kadi in Mehsana on August 20 and he was sent to judicial custody.
The case against Kaniya was filed by a businessman in Panigate area for allegedly demanding Rs 10 lakh from him on behalf of another commissioning party in June. Kaniya was facing 31 cases, including attempt to murder, thefts, assault and extortion. He was also banished from the city under the stringent Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) Act on two occasions. He had earned the moniker of “Kaniya” due to a minor squint in his right eye.
Parmar is facing trial in a loot and murder case registered in 2018 following the death of a woman who fell off a two-wheeler while he was trying to snatch her chain in Panigate area.
Tewar said that the police has not come across any other crime record of the accused. “We will now write to the court to seek his custody for this probe and if necessary, also apply for police remand,” she said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone II, Sandeep Chaudhary, said the police are investigating if the murder was pre-planned. “The accused had a heated argument with Kaniya over a petty issue and they were not on good terms. There was no weapon inside the premises, but the attack was carried out with a piece of metal… We are probing if the accused planned this attack,” Chaudhary said.
Hundreds of people, including Kaniya’s family members, gathered at the SSG Hospital where Kaniya was declared dead on arrival. His sister, Parveen, alleged that the jail administration had demanded bribe from the family to “keep Kaniya safe”.
Parveen said, “They don’t allow mobile phones or knives inside the jail. Then how did the accused get hold of a knife to slash my brother’s neck? My brother was a strong man and would have put up a fight. The truth is that the police have tortured him inside the prison. Jail authorities keep asking us for money to keep him comfortable and safe. They are all involved and it is a pre-planned murder.”
Tewar denied the family’s allegations and said preliminary investigations suggest that it was a fight for power.
Jail authorities were unavailable for comment.
Kaniya’s body was handed over to the family late in the evening after postmortem and was taken to his residence amid tight security.
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