SEVEN years after suspected Indian Mujahideen member and terror case suspect Qateel Siddiqui was strangled to death inside a high-security cell of Yerawada jail in Pune, a court has acquitted the two notorious criminals — Sharad Mohol and Alok Bhalerao — who were charged for the June 2012 murder.
Siddiqui (27), a native of Darbhanga in Bihar, was at the time facing charges in the terrorism cases in Delhi, Bangalore and Pune. He was arrested by the Delhi police in November 2011 and was later handed over to the Anti Terrorism Squad of Maharashtra police for their probe.
On the morning of June 8 in 2012, Qateel was allegedly strangled to death with a drawstring inside the high security ‘Anda’ cell of the Yerawada Central Jail in Pune, according to the police at the time. Notorious gangsters Sharad Mohol (35) and his aide Alok Bhalerao (29), who were lodged in the same cell at the time, were charged for the murder. The two were in jail for the murder of another notorious gangster in Pune.
During the trial, six key witnesses in the case including some inmates of the jail at the time, turned hostile leading to dilution of prosecution’s case. On Wednesday, the court of Additional Sessions Judge SH Gwalani acquitted Mohol and Bhalerao of the murder charges.
When contacted, Qateel’s elder brother Afroz Siddiqui told The Indian Express, “If these two gangsters are not guilty, then who are the killers of my brother? We will not stop fighting for justice for my brother. We will approach the high court.”
Defence lawyer for Mohol and Bhalerao, Adv Prakash Suryavanshi said, “The court on Wednesday acquitted both Mohol and Bhalerao. An extra-judicial confession by Mohol, which the prosecution had based their case on, was disbelieved by the court. Taking into consideration that there were no corroborations and circumstantial evidences supporting to prosecution’s theory, the court has given its ruling.”
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