Report: Parivesh Vatsyayan
Adaptation: Sharique N Siddiquie
We have heard a lot about police apathy in investigations leading to acquittal of culprits. But in this saga of love, which resulted in a murder that shocked everyone, glaring loopholes in the police probe have been exposed. Although the investigation team was rewarded for its work, it had to bite the dust in the court of law.
In its judgement, the District Fast Track Court in Bulandshahar said, “All the accused in Dhaniram and Kamlesh double murder case are acquitted due to benefit of doubt as the police has failed to produce enough supporting evidence.” The judgment sums up the police action (or rather inaction) and leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
The murder saga that took place in Bulandshahar has all the twists and turns of a detective novel. It began in 2004, when Sangeeta and Harendra, childhood friends, fell in love. Though they were madly in love with each other, their marriage was just not possible. The reason was they were first cousins.
The Hindu Marriage Act does not permit marriage among cousins which Harendra, a law student in Meerut was pretty aware of. Despite this, the couple was adamant about getting married.
Sangeeta’s father Dhaniram was aware of this relationship and was scared of society. He knew that this kind of union is not acceptable and he might have to face the wrath of society. He was also aware of the fact that Sangeeta is very stubborn so he decided to keep her under stringent restrictions.
Sangeeta, a student of Lucknow’s Rajkiya Polytechnic College, used to stay in hostel and whenever she traveled between Bulandshahar and Lucknow, she halted at Meerut to meet Harendra.
Eventually, the couple understood that it is not possible for them to get married because of society’s pressure and family’s reservations. Frustrated, they eventually decided a drastic move.
On March 14, 2004, Sangeeta was going to Lucknow from Bulandshahar after vacations. According to relatives, she was constantly pressing her parents to accompany her to the station. Normally, she used to travel alone but this time she insisted her parents to come along. The parents, ofcourse, complied.
While coming back, the inevitable happened. As soon as, they reached close to their village, assailants in a car stopped them. They butchered Dhaniram and Kamlesh with an axe and fled thereafter.
Next morning, Sangeeta called up at her neighbour’s to ask for her parents, saying she was in Lucknow.
This was the first instance that created suspicion over her intentions as it was not possible for Sangeeta to reach Lucknow from Bulandshahar so quickly. During the investigation, Sangeeta told the police that let bygones be bygones and that now she didn’t want to talk about the matter.
This reaction left the police shocked and suspicious. Four days later, police arrested her and when interrogated, she accepted that she and her boyfriend Harendra planned her parent’s murder and with the help of Harendra‘s friends- Amit and Jeetendra who killed them.
Police immediately arrested all the three accused. The investigation officers involved were rewarded by the state government for solving the murder mystery. Police had all the clues and also recovered the axe used in the murder. Everything looked set for the conviction of the accused.
But it was not to be. On January 17, 2008, the District Fast Track Court announced its verdict that left everyone shocked. The court had acquitted all the four accused, giving them ‘benefit of doubt’.
What went wrong? The court cited far too many loopholes in the investigation. The police did not analyse the mobile phone details that could have easily established the location of the accused at the time of incidence.
Police failed to prove that the axe they recovered is the same that was used in the murder as they did not support their claims by a forensic report. Police also did not take the fingerprints on the handle of the axe and match it with the fingerprints of the accused.
There were no eyewitnesses to support the case. The police also did not register the statement of the accused in front of a Magistrate under Section 164 of Indian Penal Code. So, all the accused backtracked from their initial confession.
Such negligence of simple procedure is criminal in itself. The case that got UP police officers rewards, is now bringing them shame. Till something positive happens, it is a classic case of Justice Denied.