'Patil is exerting pressure on witnesses'

CBI files affidavit that MP Padmasinh Patil is wielding pressure on the prosecution witnesses, so far six have turned hostile; also seeks cancellation of bail granted by sessions court in 2009

An affidavit filed in the Bombay High Court claims that NCP MP Padmasinh Patil, who is charged with the murder of Congress leader Pawanraje Nimbalkar, is using his political clout and influencing witnesses involved in the case.

Deadly aspirations: According to CBI, NCP MP Padmasinh Patil had
hatched a conspiracy to murder Congress leader Pawanraje Nimbalkar,
as he viewed the latter's rise in political scene as a threat to him.
File pic

The affidavit, which was filed by Deputy Superintendent of Police Samar Pal Rana in the High Court yesterday, claims that six prosecution witnesses have changed their original statements, which were recorded by the CBI. Hence, the six witnesses were declared hostile by the prosecution.

According to the affidavit, the prosecution feels that the witnesses have changed their original statements because of 'pressure tactics' imposed on them by Patil. The affidavit does not elaborate on what these tactics are, but points to his position as a Member of Parliament as being a contributing factor in the witnesses' flip-flops. Sources reveal that since Patil is out on bail since 2009, it's easy for him to coerce witnesses.

"We have brought it to the notice of the High Court that certain witnesses have turned hostile," said Ejaz Khan, special public prosecutor in the case.

Moreover, the affidavit supports the CBI's request that Patil's bail be cancelled. Of the 20 witnesses who have been examined by the prosecution in the course of the trial, six have turned hostile. The names of these witnesses are: Nilesh Atmaram Mhatre, Naresh Mahadeo Patil, Vishnu Bhagwan Bhagat, Anil Motiram Patil, Arvind Kundlik Bhoir and Narayan Goptal Bhoir.

The trial in the case commenced in July last year.

The case
Congress leader Pawanraje Nimbalkar was shot dead along with his driver Samad Kazi at Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai on June 3, 2006. His wife Anandibai Nimbalkar filed a petition in the High Court, alleging that NCP leader and former state minister Padmasinh Patil was involved in the murder, and demanded that the case be handed to the CBI. The Bombay High Court transferred the investigation to the CBI.

According to CBI, Patil had hatched a conspiracy to murder Nimbalkar, as he viewed the latter's rise in political scene as a threat to him. Other accused in the case include Latur-based businessman Satish Mandade, corporator Mohan Shukla, Parasmal Jain, former state excise inspector Shashikant Kulkarni, Bahujan Samaj Party worker Kailash Yadav, alleged shooters Dinesh Tiwari, Pintu Singh and Chote Pandey.

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