Accused in Mahesh Bhatt murder plot slaps fellow suspect in court

The duo, along with nine others, had been presented in the special MCOCA court yesterday for planning to kill filmmakers Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt on instructions from gangster Ravi Pujari

There was high drama in the courtroom yesterday after an accused slapped a fellow suspect in full view of the police and judge. The duo, along with nine others, had been presented in the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court for allegedly plotting to bump off filmmakers Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt.

Mukesh and Mahesh Bhatt. File pic
Mukesh and Mahesh Bhatt. File pic

Eleven people are facing trial in the case for plotting to kill the Bhatt brothers, allegedly under instructions from gangster Ravi Pujari. They were brought before the special MCOCA and NIA court Judge Y D Shinde at 11.45 am yesterday. All of them were sitting in two rows.

One of the accused, Mohammad Anees Merchant, was sitting right behind Asif Sattar Khan. Suddenly, Merchant got up and slapped Khan. The victim somehow controlled himself and police quickly came in and took Merchant away. Khan was then called to the witness box. An advocate in the know of developments said, “I was shocked when Merchant slapped Khan.

After the situation was sorted out, Khan was asked to step into the witness box, from where he said Merchant has been repeatedly attacking him since they were remanded in police custody to prove that he (Merchant) is mentally unstable.” A source in the courtroom added, “Merchant thinks Khan and Ishrat Shaikh (another accused) are conspiring against him by turning approver and putting all the blame on him.”

In the last hearing, Merchant’s lawyer had filed an application in court saying that his client had been admitted to J J Hospital for an immediate medical check-up, citing that he is mentally and physically not fit and was beaten up by the police at Arthur Road jail. He had said Merchant’s condition was “deteriorating day by day.”

The judge, in his order, asked the jail superintendent and chief medical officer to send Merchant to J J Hospital within three days for a mental and physical check-up and submit the medical report on March 5. He also directed the superintendent to separate the other 10 accused from Merchant, if possible, and to ensure that Merchant does not commit any further acts of violence.

Police had arrested the accused in November last year, and the chargesheet in the case was filed in court last week. The accused were also allegedly involved in the firing incident outside the residence of film producer Karim Morani. Apart from MCOCA, they have been charged under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act.

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