Sunday, April 18, 2021

Batla House: Ariz Khan held guilty of killing inspector

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A Delhi court on Monday held alleged Indian Mujahideen terrorist Ariz Khan guilty along with his accomplices of killing inspector Mohan Chand Sharma of the special cell in the Batla House encounter that took place in the national capital in September 2008. The court will hear arguments on the quantum of sentence on March 15.

Additional sessions judge Sandeep Yadav convicted 35-year-old Khan, also known as Junaid, Salim and Anna, saying that he and his associates “intentionally” and “knowingly” committed the murder of inspector Mohan Chand Sharma of the special cell by a firearm on September 19, 2008 in furtherance of a common intention.

“It has also been proved on record that on the aforesaid date, time and place accused Ariz Khan @ Junaid along with his associates… in furtherance of common intention of all of them fired gunshot on deceased Mohan Chand Sharma and his team, they all being public servant…” the court said.

It held Khan guilty of murder, attempt to murder, obstructing a public servant on duty, causing grievous hurt and non-appearance despite being declared a proclaimed offender (PO). Khan was pronounced a PO in 2009 and later arrested after being on the run for 10 years.

The court said in a 105-page judgment that the evidence produced by the prosecution duly proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. It said Khan and his associates “voluntarily” obstructed inspector Mohan Chand Sharma and his team in discharge of their public functions.

Senior public prosecutor AT Ansari said the prosecution produced 100 witnesses to substantiate the charges framed against the accused and every type of evidence, including the recovery of documents, photographs and educational papers, was taken into account.

“Keeping in mind the holistic view of the matter coupled with the gravity and manner of commission of the offences, I will certainly demand death sentence for the accused,” he said.

The judge noted that there was contemporaneous recovery of incriminating articles such as photographs, educational certificates pertaining to the accused from the place of occurrence. If these articles were falsely planted, the accused had to tell where from the police got those articles, he said.

The shootout took place six days after five serial blasts occurred in Delhi on 13 September 2008 in which at least 30 people were killed and over 100 injured. Inspector Sharma of the special cell had got a specific tip-off about the terrorist involved in the blasts hiding in a specific flat in Batla House, Jamia Nagar.

Sharma with his raiding team of officers reached the spot where a shootout broke out. While Sharma and other police officials sustained injuries, two terrorists — Mohammad Atif Ameen and Mohammad Sajid — were killed. Sharma succumbed to his injuries later.

Ariz Khan and Shahzad Ahmad managed to flee the spot but were later nabbed by police. While Ahmad, arrested on Jan 1, 2010, was sentenced to life imprisonment in the case in July 2013, Khan was arrested on February 14, 2018 from the Indo-Nepal border and convicted on Monday.

On Monday, ASJ Yadav said Khan, along with his associates assaulted and used criminal force on Sharma and his team with the intent to prevent or deter them from discharging their duty.

MS Khan, counsel for the accused, said he would appeal the vedict as it was not ascertained as to who shot the bullet that killed Sharma.

“It is still a mystery and even a medical board has not been able to ascertain as to who shot the bullet that killed Sharma. Besides, the testimonies of the police officers, there is no evidence on the occupancy of the flat or the escape from the said premises. Even the alleged recovery of my client’s wallet from the flat is doubtful as the IO of the case was not even informed about it,” he said.

The court asked the investigating officer to conduct an inquiry to ascertain Khan and his family’s financial condition and assess their capacity to pay compensation. The judge said the enquiry would focus on the impact of the crime on the legal heirs/dependents of Sharma so that it can arrive at a just conclusion on the question of compensation.

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