Underworld don Chhota Rajan
Underworld don Chhota Rajan

A special Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) court has acquitted former underworld don Chhota Rajan and one Jagannath Jaiswal for the 2001 murder of film producer and an accused in the 1993 Bombay serial bomb blasts Hanif Kadawala, who was then out on bail in the blasts case.

In 2004, four persons were acquitted in the same case. At that time, Rajan was a wanted accused. After his deportation from Bali, Indonesia in 2015, a supplementary chargesheet came to be filed in 2017 against him and Jaiswal, who was arrested in 2017 by the CBI. One co-accused Guru Satam is still wanted in the case.

In a major twist in the case last year, the deceased Kadawala’s son had made a plea in the special court for the arrest of his uncle Farooq Kadawala in the case. His plea claimed that one of the acquitted accused Yusuf Bachkana had made a confession to him and his friend that his father’s murder was carried out on the directions of his uncle Farooq, his father’s elder brother. The court had however, rejected this plea expressing doubts why the plea was filed at the end of the trial and said that it was probably to prolong it.

The order also observed that one hand the CBI brought the story that those on bail in 1993 blasts case were killed by Chhota Rajan and that now, a contrary story that Kadawala’s elder brother had eliminated him through a contract killing. “It is difficult to gather from the evidence laid by the prosecution that under what circumstances the acquitted accused made the statement to the son of the deceased and his friend and what had prompted him to give such a statement that too after a lapse of 16 years,” the order had said.

An eyewitness in the case, an employee of Kadawala, had claimed to have seen Jaiswal shooting at Kadawala. Jaiswal’s lawyer Devanand Manerkar said contradictions and inferences were brought out by him in the evidence during the cross-examination of this witness.

Hanif Kadawala was shot dead in his Bandra office by three men in Feb, 2001. An accused in the 1993 Bombay blasts case, Kadawala had allegedly transported weapons used in the blasts to the city on the instructions of Tiger Memon and hidden them in the garage of actor Sanjay Dutt. The 13 explosions on March 12, 1993 had killed 257 and injured 713 others.

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