'If not court, then god will punish them'

Jan 31, 2012, 08:05 IST | Samarth Moray and Shiva Devnath

Says deceased 16-year-old Adnan Patrawala's disconsolate mother, after four accused of kidnapping and murdering the teenager are let off

Says deceased 16-year-old Adnan Patrawala's disconsolate mother, after four accused of kidnapping and murdering the teenager are let off

Five years after Mumbai teenager Adnan Patrawala was allegedly kidnapped and killed by friends he'd met online, a city court acquitted all four accused in the case yesterday. The fifth is being tried by the Juvenile Justice Board.

Shattered: Adnan Patrawala's (below) parents Aslam and Lubna
addressing the media at their Lokhandwala residence yesterday.
Pic/Vishal Yadav

Judge S Deshmukh of the sessions court let off the four youths - Sujit Nair, Ayush Bhat, Rajeev Dharaiya and Amit Kaushal, all aged between 25 and 31 - for lack of evidence and prosecution's failure to prove the case against them.

'Black day'

Speaking to MiD DAY, Lubna Patrawala, the victim's mother, said, "It was on a Monday that we saw the body of our beloved son and today is also a Monday, when we have been denied justice. Monday has always been a black day for me."

Lubna, who was inconsolable, said the 'killers' should have been hanged. "Our lives froze in time the day Adnan was kidnapped. Each day without him hurts. If not the court, God will punish them," she said, tears streaming down her eyes.

The boy's father Aslam Patrawala was crestfallen. "We were confident that the alleged killers would be sentenced to life imprisonment. Now we are shocked. But I do not blame the police or prosecution for the verdict," he said.

Aslam added, "I was on my way to Pune when I heard about the judgement. Each piece of evidence was collected and corroborated in front of me and immediately after Adnan's body was recovered, I was in touch with the police and the lawyers at every step of the investigation. But I do not know what went wrong."

"We waited for five years for this day. What the four really deserve is death. I have said before, if I could have them all hung to death twice over, I would do that," said Aslam.

Asked whether the trial dragged on long Aslam said, "Although the case took five years, the evidences were collected immediately which could not be tampered with."

'Won't give up'
On being asked whether he had changed his statement or was unable to identify one of the arrested boys, as reported earlier, he said, "This is untrue. We have done our best to help the police in their investigations; we have also given the cops the ransom phone call details that we had got from the kidnappers. Each piece of evidence was collected in front of the forensic team. However, since we aren't well versed with the law, we had to rely on the police and lawyers. I have not given up hope still and will fight for justice to the end. We will take the case to high court and if re-investigation is essential, we will tell the police to do it."      
Adnan's elder brother Abdullah Gani (21) left for Dubai hours before the judgment, "We have not informed him about the verdict," said Aslam.

The victim's friends and relatives were also disappointed. "We will never be able to forget Adnan. Whenever we go to play we remember him. We were waiting for Adnan's killers to get convicted but are deeply hurt and disappointed by the outcome. Adnan's killers will walk free for now but justice will prevail at the end," said some of the slain teenager's friends from his locality and school.

Reacting to the verdict, criminal lawyer Jabbar Shaikh said, "There are rulings of the Supreme Court which have held that if the court is not satisfied with the investigations conducted by police, a fresh inquiry can be ordered. Merely a poor probe should not be grounds for acquittal. Besides, the victim's family could have hired private counsel to advise the prosecutors. If the complainants felt dissatisfied with investigations they could have filed a writ in the high court seeking directions."

'Justice done'
"It has taken four and a half years to prove my innocence, but it was worth it. Justice has finally been done," said Sujit Nair, who was the prime accused in the case, after his acquittal. Another one of the accused, Ayush Bhat, had a tearful reunion with his father Arun shortly after the verdict. "It is like a load off my chest. I am so relieved," he said.

Bhat's emotional father, after embracing his son, looked up to the sky with tears in his eyes. After completing some formalities at Arthur Road jail, these men will finally return home.

Nair added, "I know the state will try to appeal. But the fact is I had nothing to do with this murder. I don't even live in Mumbai. I will be going back to Kerala as soon as I can."

'Prosecution's failure'
Speaking to the media, Advocate Ashish Chavan, who represented Nair said, "The conspiracy theory was the backbone of the prosecution's case, but the court disbelieved the testimony of Dialyn Dias, the star witness for the prosecution, who supposedly overheard the conspiracy being hatched by the accused."

"The prosecution, moreover, was unable to prove its case beyond a shadow of a doubt. The theory that they were last seen together (by a garments dealer who was told Adnan was 'drunk') was also disbelieved. Even the identification of the accused was faulty. In fact, there was no redeeming feature in the prosecution's case," he added.

The verdict is being seen
by many as a moment of shame for Mumbai Police. "I am disappointed. I can't understand what we did wrong that has resulted in this verdict. I still think we built up a strong case. We even had call records and physical evidence," said Inspector (retd) Dattatray Sankhe, who was involved in the investigations.

Advocate Wahab Khan said, "Since it was a high-profile case, I am sure the prosecution did everything they could have to secure a conviction. The trial lasted four years, but even then their case did not inspire confidence. Ultimately, the court had to acquit the accused."

Didn't hold up!
According to the police, on the evening of August 18, 2007, Adnan took his father's Skoda to meet with his friends at a gaming parlour at a mall in Malad. The group of five people he was meeting with used to interact with him regularly on a networking site. They had zeroed in on him after scanning the site for other potential victims.  According to the police, the men wanted quick money. Some had debts they needed to settle. They drew up a list of people they could kidnap for ransom. Adnan appeared trusting and came from a wealthy family.

The alleged killers, according to the police, offered Adnan a spiked drink and suggested they go for a drive. The next morning, Adnan's father received a call asking for Rs 2 crore as ransom. Meanwhile, news of the kidnapping had broken on TV. So Adnan's abductors strangled him, dumped his body in some bushes on Palm Beach Road in Navi Mumbai, and took local trains home.

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