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Malvani 'murder': Cops say friend's story about escaping druggies doesn't add up

The victim’s friend, who claimed he managed to escape a gang of six who allegedly murdered the 18-year-old, is giving the police vague statements that he keeps changing

Three days after 18-year-old Manjeet Bhagat was allegedly stoned to death, the case gets murkier. While his friend Anuj Kumar had initially told the police that a gang of six drug addicts had accosted them, and later murdered Manjeet, police officials have found his statements to be suspicious.

Also Read: Mumbai Crime: Druggies stone 18-year-old to death

Anuj Kumar says he went to the police to report the murder, but they shooed him away
Anuj Kumar says he went to the police to report the murder, but they shooed him away

Investigating into the murder that occurred on Sunday night, police were told by Anuj that he and his friend Manjeet had gone out for a stroll that evening, and that a gang of drug addicts surrounded them and asked for money. While Anuj says he somehow managed to flee, his friend Manjeet was caught and murdered with a stone.

The victim was found with a stone on his chest and another one beside him. However, Anuj didn’t report the incident to the police. Neither did he tell the victim’s brother Sajeet, who eventually identified the body. All three of them worked together at a Malvani factory. Only when the police landed up at Anuj’s house the next day did he tell them about it.

Speaking to mid-day, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Malvani division) Ramesh Lohakare said, “Why did he not inform us about it? He didn’t even tell his factory colleagues. He just went home and slept. He spoke about it when we went to his house to question him.”

Blood-stained shirt
According to his statements, Anuj was injured in the scuffle with the gang while trying to escape, and blood fell on his shirt. However, he told the cops he had thrown the shirt away and didn’t remember where he discarded it. He is even unable to recall the exact place where the gang allegedly confronted them.

Lohakare further said that officials had observed blood spattered across Anuj’s denim pants. Suspecting the friend’s involvement in the murder, Lohakare speculated that the spray of blood from Manjeet’s chest and neck could’ve been a result of Anuj’s possibly throwing a stone on his friend.

The aforementioned trousers have been sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory in Kalina and police have detained Anuj. “We suspect his role in the murder. He is constantly changing his statements,” added Lohakare.

Police didn’t act?
But adding to the mystery in the case is Anuj’s allegation that he did go to the police that night, but was turned away by the officer on duty. If there is any truth in this, it raises serious allegations about the police’s attitude and a possibility that the victim could’ve been saved, had the police acted in time.

Asked about this, Lohakare said they are checking CCTV footage to see if Anuj indeed approached them. A source at the police station said the cops might be acting to protect themselves and falsely framing Anuj. Meanwhile, the case is wide open, with even the drug addicts’ angle not being ruled out.

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