Second accused acquitted
LUCKNOW: The prime accused in the Syed Modi murder case, Bhagwati Singh, was on Saturday sentenced to life imprisonment by Additional Sessions Judge of Lucknow Shashank Shekhar, 21 years after the badminton player was shot dead at the rear gate of the K.D. Singh “Babu” stadium here.
The 27-year-old eight-time national badminton champion was killed on July 28, 1988 when he was riding home on his scooter from practice. The killers, who were waiting for him, sped towards Rae Bareli in a Maruti van after executing the crime.
Bhagwati Singh was held guilty on two counts under Section 302 (murder) and Section 27 (possession of illegal arms) of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The prime accused had been convicted by the Additional Sessions Judge on Friday and the quantum of punishment was pronounced on Saturday. The second accused, Jitendra Singh, was cleared of the charges for want of evidence.
The murder sent shock waves in sporting circles. The case soon assumed political overtones after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charge sheeted Jan Morcha leader Sanjay Singh and Modi’s wife Amita on grounds of conspiracy.
Mr. Sanjay Singh, who was a senior Minister in the Uttar Pradesh government headed by the then Chief Minister, Bir Bahadur Singh, left the Congress and joined the former Prime Minister V.P. Singh. The CBI probe was recommended by Mr. Bir Bahadur Singh in August 1988, even as the local police investigating the case claimed to have zeroed in on the killers. The investigating agency stepped in only in September 1988.
Apart from Mr. Sanjay Singh and Ms. Modi, the CBI charge sheet also named Akhilesh Kumar Singh, sitting MLA from Rae Bareli Sadar, Amar Bahadur Singh, Bhagwati Singh, Jitendra Singh and Balai Singh.
The CBI alleged that the contract to kill Modi was given to Akhilesh Singh by Mr. Sanjay Singh. The CBI cited an alleged affair between Mr. Sanjay Singh and Ms. Modi as the cause for giving the alleged killing contract.
While the CBI was accused of moving on a political trail, Mr. Sanjay Singh and Ms. Modi were discharged in 1990 by a trial court, a year after the CBI filed the charge sheet. Mr. Sanjay Singh and Ms. Modi later married.
Charges against Mr. Akhilesh Singh were also dropped. While Amar Bahadur Singh was murdered, Balai Singh died during the course of the trial. Jitendra Singh has been cleared of the charges.