MUMBAI: A local sessions court acquitted four men accused of murdering Mumbai teenager Adnan Patrawala in August 2007, they were charged with extortion, kidnapping and murder of the 16-year-old.
Sujit Nair, Ayush Bhatt, Rajeev Dharaiya and Amit Kaushal were acquitted of the charges as the court found the evidence collected by Mumbai Police to be ‘insufficient to prove without a doubt’ that they kidnapped or killed Adnan. A fifth accused, minor at the time of the murder, is being tried separately by the Juvenile Justice Board.
Adnan, who was 16, was discovered dead in the bushes of Navi Mumbai, in August 2007. He had been strangled and his father’s car was found on Palm Beach Road at Vashi. He had left his home to meet with friends at a gaming centre whom he met through a social networking site Orkut. His family had claimed that they received ransom calls demanding Rs 2 crores.
“The court has rubbished the conspiracy theory presented by the police, the chain of circumstances could no prove beyond a doubt that my client had any role in the death,” Sujit Nair’s lawyer Ashish Chavan. The court rejected the conspiracy theory put forward by the prosecution and prosecution witness’ claim that he heard the accused hatching the plan to kidnap Adnan in a shopping mall. He added that the evidence only establish death- not murder or murder by the accused.
The Mumbai Sessions Court while delivering the judgment said the evidence, both forensic and circumstantial, was assembled so loosely that they ended up reducing each other rather than form a cohesive thread against the accused. “Key evidence submitted in the case included exchanges between Adnan and the four men on social networking site Orkut and most of the police case was based on the notion that Adnan was last seen with one of the accused. There were no eyewitnesses and identification parade of the accused did not inspire the court’s confidence. Most importantly the crucial call records of the three ransom calls were missing from the evidence.”
Breathing a sigh of relief Arun Bhatt, father of Ayush Bhatt said that , “I always knew that my son is innocent but we had to wait for the courts to confirm the truth, I can not imagine the suffering of the family that lost their son but pinning the responsibility on innocent boys can not bring closure. Just as this verdict has brought us peace, I hope they too find peace.”
While the Bhatt family celebrated the acquittal of their son, Adnan’s father Aslam Patrawala was speechless in shock. “After five years they give a verdict that no one killed my son, what am I to make of it?” he said. “I don’t know what went wrong but I will appeal with the high courts and get justice for my son’s death,” he said in a sense of disbelief.
According to the police theory, the accused had befriended him through social networking site Orkut. The five young men allegedly kidnapped Adnan and demanded a ransom of Rs. 2 Crore from his parents. However they panicked and strangled Adnan when they learnt that news of the kidnapping was being broadcast on national television and later, dumped Adnan’s body in marshes at Navi Mumbai. The theory was based on the fact that the victim was last seen with the accused however no eye witness could confirm it.