Manas Dasgupta

Point blank shooting ruled out

  • Body could have been put inside car
  • No bullet marks on body

    AHMEDABAD: A ballistic missile expert and a forensic science expert have disagreed with the prosecution theory that the former Gujarat Minister of State for Home, Haren Pandya, was shot dead from point blank range at the Law Garden here from where his body was found on March 26, 2003.

    Appearing before the designated POTA court of Sonia Gokani as witnesses of the defence advocate, Nitya Ramakrishnan, the ballistic missile expert and former director of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, J.K. Sinha, and the head of the Department of Forensic Sciences at the Osmania University, Hyderabad, M. Narayana Reddy, said it was impossible that the injury marks were sustained inside a car as presented by the prosecution.

    Prosecution said Pandya was shot dead while he was just about to get out of his self-driven car for a morning walk in the Law Garden locality. He was rolling up the side screen when the assailants opened fire with just about three inches of the glass-opening left.

    The case was investigated by the CBI, which produced the six accused, including Ashghar Ali, who was arrested from Hyderabad, claimed to be the "actual killer." Twelve others were included as accused for conspiring to murder the former Minister.

    The defence advocate argued that Pandya could have been killed at some other spot and his body put inside the car and left at the Law Garden. Had he been shot at the spot, the car would have been soaked in blood but the evidence produced by the prosecution did not prove it. Dr. Sinha said the injury marks mentioned in the post-mortem report were inconsistent with the incident report as all marks were found to be circular which was not possible when fire was opened from a gun held perpendicularly through the side screen window.

    He also examined the photographs of the body produced by the CBI and disagreed with the prosecution's claim that the photographs "matched" with the injury marks on the body. He told the court that the photographs did not show any bullet marks, let alone have matching marks.

    Dr. Reddy earlier told the court that the scrotum wound would not have been possible had the victim been sitting in the car when he was fired upon. Had he been sitting in the car and had the assailant shot at him through the right window, the two bullets which were not accounted for would have fallen on the scene of the crime and the seat would have been soaked in blood. Prosecution advocate, K.M. Panchal, also cross-examined the experts but they held on to their views.

    Father blames Modi

    The father of Haren Pandya, Vithhalbhai Pandya, who had been openly accusing Chief Minister Narendra Modi of being the "hand behind Haren Pandya's murder," submitted an application to the POTA court demanding a fresh investigation. He alleged that the CBI inquiry was merely a "cover-up exercise" and in the interest of justice, the case should be re-investigated. He named four persons, Mr. Modi; the present Minister of State for Home Amit Shah; Porbandar-based Bhima Dullah, and Mufti Sufiyan, who was involved in some other POTA cases, as the main conspirators, and demanded that they be interrogated by the court.

    Mr. Vithhalbhai Pandya also wanted the trial shifted outside Gujarat to ensure a fair exercise. His application is likely to come up on Saturday.