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An unusual meeting in A.P. jail

K. Srinivas Reddy
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Jagruti Pandya— FILE PHOTO
Jagruti Pandya— FILE PHOTO

The medium-built under trial prisoner walked into the jailor’s room, where a saree-clad woman sat waiting patiently. She did not display any emotion on seeing him. The ice breaker was a traditional ‘Namasthe’ offered by the under trial Asgar Ali.

And the woman Jagruti Pandya, whose husband Ali is alleged to have killed, asked him to sit.

Haren Pandya fell to bullets fired by an “unknown assailant” on March 26, 2003 near Law Garden area of Ahmedabad. According to the CBI, the killer was Asgar Ali. But he has since been acquitted of the charge by the Gujarat High Court.

“Who could have killed my husband? I have been waiting for over a decade to know,” said Ms. Pandya “What do I tell my children when they ask me why the killers were not caught?”

Asgar Ali looked at her intently before replying. “I do not know. But I too have lost ten years of my prime life in jails. Who will give me back my ten years?”

Asaduddin Owaisi, MIM president and Hyderabad MP who facilitated the meeting between the slain leader’s widow and the alleged killer, said it was difficult to watch the two people who had lost so much in their lives.

Asgar Ali is currently lodged in a jail in the port city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh in a conspiracy case registered against him in Nalgonda. Both Mr. Owaisi and Ms. Jagruthi Pandya were contacted by TheHindu for details on the ‘mulaqath’ that took place on June 11 in Visakhapatnam jail.

After the nearly 90-minute conversation that was devoid of any emotional outburst, Asgar Ali and Ms. Pandya exchanged their views on the killing of Haren Pandya, a popular BJP leader in Ahmedabad.

‘I did not kill him. I had not even visited Ahmedabad before I was arrested. They framed me in the case’ Asgar said. Ms Pandya recalled Asgar Ali narrating how he was pulled by his hair after his hands and legs were tied. “They extracted my confession. I had even considered ending my life,” Asgar told the visitors.

Does she believe his claim? “I am sure he is not involved in the killing. The court also did not believe the CBI version,” Ms. Pandya pointed out. Then who could be the killers? “That is what I would like to know. There must be a second inquiry.”

She also wants a probe into the role of some persons, whose names she is not prepared to disclose now, in the killing of her husband. ‘I shall disclose the names after the Supreme Court gives its verdict on an SLP filed by the CBI in the case.” She believes there was a political conspiracy to eliminate her husband.

Asgar Ali was convicted for life in 2007, but the Gujarat High Court set aside the conviction. The has CBI moved the Supreme Court against the acquittal.

“What do I tell my children when they ask me why the killers were not caught?”


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