Navi Mum bldr mur­der: Trial will start on Dec 7

Court Frames Charges Against 12 Ac­cused

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Ahmed.Ali@ times­group.com

Mum­bai: The Thane ses­sions court on Mon­day framed charges against 12 of the 14 ac­cused in the 2013 mur­der case of Navi Mum­bai-based builder Su­nil La­ho­ria. The trial will be­gin on De­cem­ber 7, said a source.

The po­lice said that fram­ing of the charges in the case as­sumes sig­nif­i­cance as four years on, the main ac­cused, in­clud­ing builder Suresh Bi­jlani, have not got bail. Bi­jlani has filed 38 bail ap­pli­ca­tions in var­i­ous courts with­out suc­cess. Of­fi­cials of the crime branch said that they hope the trial is ex­pe­dited and com­pleted by mid-2018.

The case dates back to Fe­bru­ary 16, 2013, when La­ho­ria was gunned down out­side his of­fice in Vashi. Of­fi­cials of the crime branch ar­rested 12 per­sons, in­clud­ing Bi­jlani and ar­chi­tect Anuragh Gargh, for the mur­der. The po­lice have said La­ho­ria had filed a writ pe­ti­tion be­fore the high court for can­cel­la­tion of Gargh’s ar­chi­tect li­cence as there were two FIRs against him and this was the rea­son of dis­pute be­tween them. In the case of Bi­jlani, La­ho­ria and he had a dis­pute over a plot. Bi­jlani and Gargh ganged up to get La­ho­ria bumped off with the help of for­mer en­counter spe­cial­ist cop Em­manuel Amo­lik, the po­lice have claimed.

Sources said that charges have been framed against 12 ac­cused and two other sus­pects—Su­mit Bachewar and Bhu­pesh Gupta—have been dis­charged from the case. How­ever, the state has filed an ap­peal against the dis­charge of Bachewar and Gupta and the ap­pli­ca­tion is pend­ing be­fore the Supreme Court. Charges against the 12 ac­cused have been framed un­der IPC sec­tions 302 (mur­der), 120B (crim­i­nal con­spir­acy) and 201 (de­struc­tion of ev­i­dence) and also Arms Act.

In a 7,000-page chargesheet, run­ning into seven vol­umes, filed on May 2013, the po­lice have said that two of the ac­cused, Venkaesh Shet­ti­yar and Wa­jid Qureshi, who they claim are shoot­ers, who as­saulted La­ho­ria and at­tacked him with a chop­per. Amo­lik, ex­e­cuted the mur­der on be­half of Bi­jlani, says the chargesheet. Four oth­ers—Altaf Khan, Arif Shaikh, Kailash Gu­mane and Mo­hammed An­sari alias Bhai­jaan—were part of the co­or­di­na­tion and back-up team whereas Fran­cis Chauri and Anil D’Souza were re­spon­si­ble for trans­fer­ring con­tract money to ev­ery­one, it states.

Bi­jlani’s brother Ma­hesh has also been named in the chargesheet as the main con­spir­a­tor who hatched the plan.

The po­lice have said that there is strong ev­i­dence, cir­cum­stan­tial as well as tech­ni­cal, to prove the mur­der. “There is am­ple ev­i­dence and there are 181 wit­nesses. We hope the case will reach its log­i­cal end,” said an of­fi­cer.

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