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Unfortunate reality that people knock on doors of tantriks for solutions: HC

It is an unfortunate reality of our times that people knock on the doors of tantriks/babas for solutions to their problems, the Bombay High Court has said while upholding the conviction of a man for sexually assaulting six intellectually-challenged girls. The high court, in its judgment passed last month but made available on Saturday, also upheld the life sentence imposed on the 45-year-old man, who claimed to be a tantrik. A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Manjusha Deshpande said this was a "bizarre case of blind faith" and the accused does not deserve any leniency. The prosecution's case is that the accused, who claims to be a tantrik/baba, sexually exploited six intellectually-challenged girls on the pretext of curing them. He also allegedly financially exploited the girls' parents and took Rs 1.30 crore from them under the garb of curing the minors. The first information report (FIR) in this connection was registered in 2010. A sessions court convicted the man in 2016 and sentenced him to life imprisonment for the remainder of his life. The man filed an appeal in the high court, challenging the sessions court order. The high court dismissed his appeal and upheld the conviction and sentence, noting that this was a not a case where the sentence should be reduced. "The facts are gross, and the girls too many, and as such the sentence must be commensurate with the acts committed," the HC said. "This is one such bizarre case of blind faith. It is an unfortunate reality of our times, that people, at times knock on the doors of so called tantriks/babas, for a solution to their problems and that these so-called tantriks/babas, take advantage of the vulnerability and blind faith of these people and exploit them," the court said. The so-called tantriks/babas not only exploit their vulnerability by extracting money from them, but also many a time, sexually assault the victims under the guise of providing solutions, it added. The bench in its order said the prosecution has duly proved through the evidence of the victims and their parents, the complicity of the accused vis-a-vis sexual assault on the victims.  This story has been sourced from a third party syndicated feed, agencies. Mid-day accepts no responsibility or liability for its dependability, trustworthiness, reliability and data of the text. Mid-day management/mid-day.com reserves the sole right to alter, delete or remove (without notice) the content in its absolute discretion for any reason whatsoever.

02 March,2024 02:43 PM IST | Mumbai | PTI
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Three held for manufacturing gutka, tobacco products in Thane district

Three persons have been arrested for allegedly manufacturing banned gutka and tobacco products in Thane district, police said on Saturday, reported news agency PTI. The accused, Viraj Sitaram Alimkar (24), Mohammad Umar Abdul Rehman (35), and Mohammad Tariq Alikadar Khan (21), were apprehended near Khoni Phata in Dombivili on February 27 for allegedly manufacturing banned gutka and tobacco products in Thane district, senior inspector Naresh Pawar said, reported PTI. Gutka and tobacco produced worth Rs 7.5 lakh were recovered from the trio, the official said. Based on the information provided by the accused, the police raided a farm in Kusavali village and recovered materials and equipment used for manufacturing gutka, he said, reported PTI. The accused were booked under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Food and Drug Administration Act, and a hunt is on for two others involved in the crime, the official said, reported PTI. In another incident, in January, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has seized banned gutka and tobacco products valued at Rs 12.45 lakh in Thane district of Maharashtra and arrested one person in this connection. According to the PTI, a team of the FDA along with police raised a premises near a hotel in Bhiwandi area and seized the banned products, the official from Shanti Nagar police station said. A 34-year-old driver of a tempo parked near the premises was apprehended in this connection. The police have registered a case under Indian Penal Code sections 328 (causing hurt by means of poison), 273 (sale of noxious food or drink), 272 (adulteration of food or drink intended for sale), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant), and 179 (refusing to answer public servant authorized to question) and the FDA regulations, the official said, as per the PTI. Efforts were on to nab four other persons for the involvement in the offence, he said. The sale and consumption of gutka, scented and flavoured tobacco has been banned in Maharashtra since 2012. (With inputs from PTI)

02 March,2024 02:36 PM IST | Thane | mid-day online correspondent
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Mumbai Customs seize gold worth Rs 8.7 cr over three days

Mumbai Customs department seized over 15.89 kg gold valued at approximately 8.07 crore across thirteen different cases within three days, the Airport Commissionerate said in a statement, reported news agency ANI. "On 27 Feb-01 Mar, 24, Airport Commissionerate, Mumbai Customs Zone-III seized over 15.89 Kg Gold valued at 8.07 Cr across 13 different cases," the Mumbai customs department said in a post on X. The gold was discovered in various hiding spots including, concealed clothes, on the body of the passengers, and corner piping of a check-in bag. Earlier, on February 18-24, Airport Commissionerate, Mumbai Customs Zone-III seized over eight kg of gold valued at approximately Rs 4 crores and five iPhones across eight different cases. The gold was concealed in the frame of the check-in bag, box of crockery, clothes worn, and hand bag.  Earlier, Mumbai Customs seized gold valued at Rs 4.06 crore and a high end phone in nine separate cases within a span of three days, Airport Commissionerate, in a statement, reported news agency ANI. The Airport Commissionerate, Mumbai Customs Zone III seized over 7.57 kg gold and one iPhone between February 23-25, said the Airport Commissionerate in a statement. According to the Airport Commissionerate the gold was concealed in clothes worn, on the body of the passengers and in their handbags, reported ANI. Earlier, it said that between February 18-24, the Airport Commissionerate, Mumbai Customs Zone-III seized over 7.64 kg Gold valued at 4.09 Cr. in seven different cases, reported ANI. Gold was smuggled using the retail staff of a mobile company and concealed in hot plate, a bicycle, an aircraft seat, corner piping of bag, and check-in bag, reported ANI. Meanwhile, custom officials seized over 8 kg of gold valued at approximately Rs 4 crore and five iPhones across eight different cases at Mumbai airport last week, reported news agency ANI. According to the Airport Commissionerate, Mumbai Customs Zone-3, gold was concealed in the frame of the check-in bag, box of crockery, clothes worn, hand bag. Earlier, on February 18-24, Airport Commissionerate, Mumbai Customs Zone-3 seized over 7.64 kg of gold valued at 4.09 crore in seven different cases at Mumbai airport, reported ANI. Gold was smuggled using the retail staff of a mobile company; concealed in hot plate, bicycle, aircraft seat, corner piping of bag, check-in bag, reported ANI. (With inputs from ANI)

02 March,2024 02:29 PM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
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Empty train coach catches fire at railway yard in Thane district; no casualties

A coach of an empty train caught fire at railway yard in Thane district in the wee hours of Saturday, an official from the Central Railway (CR) said, reported news agency PTI. The fire at railway yard in Thane district occurred around 1.20 am in the train parked at the railway yard in Badlapur, around 70-80 km from Mumbai, the CR spokesperson said, reported PTI. The train was on the Karjat bound loop line, he said. "While the coach was destroyed in the fire, there was no other damage or injury to any person. The Central Railway has ordered a probe by the assistant officers committee," the spokesperson said, reported PTI. The blaze was brought under control in an hour, he said. Following the fire, the overheard wires were switched off between Badlapur and Vangani stations, officials said, reported PTI. Meanwhile, commuters claimed that a few late-night local trains were halted midway due to the fire. In another incident, a fire broke out at a commercial unit in the western suburb of Sakinaka here on Saturday morning, and there was no casualty in the incident, a fire official said, reported PTI. The blaze occurred around 9.40 am in a single-storey structure near a bus stop on the Andheri-Kurla road, the official said, reported PTI. Three fire engines, jumbo tankers and an ambulance were dispatched to deal with the Level 1 category fire, he said, reported PTI. The fire-fighting operation is underway, the official said. Paper, cloth, electrical wiring and other materials were stored on the premises, he said. The cause for the fire is yet to be ascertained, it was stated, reported PTI. (With inputs from PTI)

02 March,2024 02:19 PM IST | Thane | mid-day online correspondent
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One dead, one missing while swimming in Ulhas river in Ambernath

One person drowned and another is missing after they went to swim in Ulhas river in Ambernath in Thane district on Friday, a police official said, reported news agency PTI. The incident took place in the afternoon at Shantisagar point near Ulhas river in Ambernath, the official said. "The deceased and the person missing were part of a group of four persons. Two of them managed to swim to safety. The body of Aman Singh was recovered, while Ajay Bhoria is missing," he said, reported PTI. In another incident, three teen boys have gone missing from Srinagar area of Thane city, a police official said on Friday, reported PTI. The three set out together from their homes in Shivaji Nagar on February 28 and have been untraceable since, the Srinagar police station official said, reported PTI. "We have registered a kidnapping case since the boys are minors. Two are 15 years old and one is 14. Police teams have been formed to trace them," he added, reported PTI. Meanwhile, two sisters were seriously injured after they were knocked down by a school bus in Vasai in Palghar district on Friday, a police official said, reported PTI. The siblings, in the 2-7 age group, were hospitalised following the incident, which took place at 2pm when they were crossing a road, he said. "They were knocked down after the bus took a u-turn. The driver immediately applied brakes and along with passersby pulled out the two girls from near the tyres. They rushed the siblings to a hospital," he said, reported PTI. The police are probing the incident, the official added. A video of the accident went viral on social media. In another incident, a man died and another sustained burn injuries after an explosion took place at a tyre godown in Maharashtra's Solapur district early Friday, police said, reported PTI. The incident took place at Mahid village in Pandharpur tehsil, more than 200 km from Pune, reported PTI. The explosion was followed by a fire, said a police official. The cause of the explosion was yet to be ascertained, he said, reported PTI. (With inputs from PTI)

02 March,2024 01:08 PM IST | Thane | mid-day online correspondent
Vijay Wadettiwar. File Pic

'Shinde govt failed to give concrete answers to Oppn queries in legislature'

Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar on Friday slammed the Eknath Shinde government for not giving concrete answers to questions raised by the opposition during the five-day interim budget session, reported news agency PTI. Addressing a press conference, Wadettiwar said the only agenda of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in his replies to the House was to praise Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "The Eknath Shinde government did not give concrete answers to questions raised by the opposition," Wadettiwar claimed, reported PTI. The government has failed to provide any relief in the budget to farmers who have suffered losses due to unseasonal rains, he said, adding help must be given to them before the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls comes into force. The Vidarbha region has only been allocated Rs 2,000 crore in the budget, Wadettiwar added, reported PTI. Hitting out at the Eknath Shinde government over unemployment, Wadettiwar asked what happened to the MoUs worth several lakh crore rupees signed at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "How many have actually seen the light of day? There is no focus on how to generate employment for the youth," he said, reported PTI. Meanwhile, the week-long budget session of the Maharashtra legislature ended here on Friday with the passage of the interim budget in the Assembly. The monsoon session of the legislature will commence in Mumbai from June 10 after the Lok Sabha polls and will see presentation of a full-fledged budget, presiding officers of both houses announced, reported PTI. The budget session began on February 26 and an interim budget was presented in the Assembly the next day by Finance Minister Ajit Pawar. The Governor's address to both houses took place on February 20 during a day-long special session of the legislature where a bill granting 10 per cent separate quota to the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutes was unanimously passed, reported PTI. An interim budget, instead of a full one, was presented in view of the Lok Sabha polls which are likely to be held in April-May. An interim budget outlines the government's expenditure and revenue proposals for a few months until a full-fledged budget is presented. (With inputs from PTI)

02 March,2024 01:00 PM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
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Mumbai: Fire breaks out in Sakinaka, no injuries reported

A fire broke out at a commercial unit in the western suburb of Sakinaka in Mumbai on Saturday morning, and there was no casualty in the incident, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said. The blaze occurred around 9.05 am in a single-storey structure near a bus stop on the Andheri-Kurla road, the civic body said. Fire breaks out in Kurla: Fire was confined to electric wiring According to BMC, the incident was swiftly reported by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's Mumbai Fire Brigade. The fire was confined to electric wiring, electric installation, paper reels, machineries, stock of garments, sewing machine, wooden doors, windows, wooden furniture, etc. in an area about 15000 sq.ft in two units.  Mumbai Fire Brigade initiated firefighting operations, deploying three small hose line to combat the flames. Authorities mobilised in response to the incident included BMC's Mumbai Fire Brigade and the local police department.  The BMC said that no injuries were reported in the incident. Fire breaks out in Kurla: Other incidents Meanwhile, A fire broke out in Mumbai's Goregaon area on Friday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said.  The fire erupted in AMC unit 21 in Aarey Colony near Tapeshwar mandir in Goregaon East, the civic body said. In another incident, a major fire broke out in a slum in Bhayandar on Wednesday. The blaze reportedly erupted in the Azad Nagar slum area of Bhayandar East in the wee hours, resulting in one confirmed death and five reported injuries. Among the injured are two minors and three officials from the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) fire department, who sustained injuries while carrying out rescue operations. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined, and an investigation is underway. Earlier, a fire Brigade official said a phone call received about a "blaze" in a Mumbai high-rise residential building housing staffers of a Maharashtra government-run hospital in south Mumbai on Monday night turned out to be a false alarm as no such incident had taken place, reported news agency PTI. The official said they have asked the Mumbai police to take action against the unidentified person for raising a false fire alarm and causing panic, reported PTI. He said the person at around 8.45 pm told them there was a "short circuit" in a flat on the 14th floor of the Mumbai high-rise residential building housing staffers of state government-run GT Hospital, reported PTI. As per SOP, they sent fire tenders to the spot, where no blaze or smoke was detected, said the official. Meanwhile, a fire broke out at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Pise Water Pumping Station on Monday evening, leading to a significant impact on water supply across several parts of Mumbai. (With inputs from PTI)

02 March,2024 12:42 PM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
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Mid-Day Premium Will man ever win the fight against mosquitoes?

In the 21st century, human intelligence has led to the creation of artificial intelligence, taking the world of science & technology leaps and bounds ahead. Moreover, when the world came to a screeching halt after the spread of coronavirus, man displayed the epitome of medical science and we returned to a near normal life. However, at the same time, man continues fighting a hard battle, with a tiny creature called ‘mosquito’. The nuisance and disease spreading fly, has proven that it is a step ahead of human-created mitigation efforts to kill it permanently. Experts are hopeful that with the rising challenges, world will innovate its combat strategies against mosquitoes. World’s deadliest animal Evolutionary biologists view mosquitoes as micro predators, while medical parasitologists view mosquitoes as disease vectors. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls mosquitoes the “world’s deadliest animal” as the insect transmits six deadly diseases to humans- namely Malaria, Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever and West Nile Virus (WNV). As per Communicable Disease Centre (CDC) data, in 2021, 6,19,000 people died from malaria alone, and over 247 million became ill across 84 countries. Nearly 3.2 billion people of the world’s population are at risk of this preventable disease. Dengue outbreaks are common in many countries around the world, including the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Also Read: BMC to complete two years without elected reps; how is Mumbai running under admin rule? The largest WNV outbreak in the United States occurred in 2021 in Arizona, sickening 1,715 people and leaving 125 dead, highlighting that the most developed nation too is unable to eradicate this tiny but life-threatening species. In 2023, 20 years after the U.S. thought it had eradicated malaria, eight malaria patients were detected in Florida and Texas. However, the fact remains that mosquito-borne diseases, especially dengue fever and malaria, typically affect developing countries and areas with tropical climates. In the last two decades, there has been a geographic spread of the disease. Experts attribute it to rapid population growth, increased congestion in urban areas, and global travel. The dengue virus has evolved rapidly over time, posing challenges to both government and public health officials. The expensive fight Worldwide, from 1970 to 2017, it has been estimated that the invasive species cost the global economy more than 1.28 trillion USD in damage and efforts to control its spread. The cost of introduction of newer mitigation efforts, technology, medications and preventive care has been doubling, but the spread of mosquitoes is worsening too. In India too, the disease spreading fly has created a socio-economic burden. As per World Health Organisation (WHO) 2017 data, the socio-economic burden for India, due to malaria alone, was pegged at around 1.94 billion USD (Rs 1,1640 crore) with 95 per cent of the population living in malaria-endemic areas. The rising dengue cases account for over 1 billion USD (nearly Rs 6,000 crore) of annual economic costs (including direct and indirect loss and medical costs). “Today, millions of lives are still lost due to malaria and the mosquitoes that spread it. But since 2000, global partnerships have saved more than 10.6 million lives from malaria too,” said research by Outreach Network for Gene Drive. In September 2022, global leaders met under leadership of the U.S. President Joe Biden, the panel agreed that constant innovation and more aggressive methods are needed to stay ahead of mosquitoes. Apart from this, environmental change is another major reason the man is falling behind in the fight against mosquitoes. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Annual Meeting of January 2023, had major observations that urbanisation and climate change are helping to spread mosquito-borne diseases, four billion people are at risk from Dengue Fever today and that could double by the end of the century, and that innovation, collaboration and providing equitable access are essential to prevent and combat mosquito-borne diseases. Climate Change and Urbanisation rise mosquitoes breeding sites “While we work to mitigate the growing impact of drought, rising sea levels and extreme weather, we cannot lose sight of the underestimated consequence of the warming planet: the spread of debilitating and potentially deadly mosquito-borne diseases,” the WEF 2023 observed. Dengue Fever, Malaria, Zika, West Nile and Chikungunya until recently, primarily existed in warmer climates with higher levels of mosquito populations. Mosquitos, being cold-blooded like all insects, thrive in warmer weather. As global warming leads to rising air and water temperatures and more rainfall and flooding, more environments are becoming suitable for mosquitos to multiply,” says the WEF report. A 2020 study by the US National Institute of Health concluded that, for every one degree Celsius the planet warms, Dengue Fever cases will increase by 35 per cent. How can tropical countries like India tackle the mosquito menace? Mosquito control is a vital public health practice throughout the world, especially in tropical regions. The government and public health officials are always on foot combating multiplying mosquito breeding sites, especially in developing and populated countries. Apart from being the most populated country, India is one of the countries with maximum infrastructural projects underway. With added factors like topography, climate change and lack of public knowledge of preventive measures, India is one of the hotspots for mosquito-borne diseases. In 2022, the National Centre for Vector-Borne Disease Control (NCVBDC) was established to address the challenges, including finance and operations, and enhance the efforts in preventing and controlling vector-borne diseases, including malaria and dengue. Every municipal corporation has sanitisation departments and health officers to track disease control programs. Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), which runs Mumbai- the economic capital of India- holds a major stake in implementing combat measures against mosquito-borne diseases. Dr Daksha Shah, Executive Health Officer (also the head of the sanitisation department), of MCGM, said that the fight against mosquitoes is difficult, but we have not lost it. Every year, the civic bodies have funds allotted for mosquito control, programs and a channel of preventive measures to be taken to tackle the mosquito menace. Shah said, “It is true with increased urbanisation, construction works, slum population and weather change, eradicating mosquito breeding sites is difficult. But with years of efforts, the number of people affected with mosquito-borne diseases has decreased drastically in Mumbai.” “From around 75,000 dengue cases in 2002 to around 7,000 cases in 2023, the city has come a long way,” the officer said. However, public awareness and community engagement play a key role. Nuisance continues The dengue cases are highest during the monsoon season, from July to October when mosquito breeding is most prevalent. But the mosquito menace persists around the year, as the non-disease spreading mosquitoes known as nuisance mosquitoes continue hampering the well-being of a person, by buzzing all around. With the world, India too remains steadfast in its fight against mosquitoes.

02 March,2024 11:29 AM IST | Mumbai | Devashri Bhujbal
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Palghar woman, son electrocuted due to live wire laid in field

A 60-year-old Palghar woman and her son were electrocuted in Maharashtra's Palghar district on Friday, police said, reported news agency PTI. The deceased were identified as Omprakash Khanaya Sahani (40) and Lalita Devi Khanaya Sahani (60), reported PTI. The Palghar woman and her son were walking in the field in Shigaon-Khutad village near Boisar around 7 pm when Omprakash accidentally stepped on a live electric wire, laid to keep wild animals away, reported PTI. His mother went to his rescue but both were electrocuted and died on the spot, the official added. Further probe was on, he said. In another incident, one person drowned and another is missing after they went to swim in Ulhas river in Ambernath in Thane district on Friday, a police official said, reported PTI. The incident took place in the afternoon at Shantisagar point, the official said. "The deceased and the person missing were part of a group of four persons. Two of them managed to swim to safety. The body of Aman Singh was recovered, while Ajay Bhoria is missing," he said, reported PTI. Meanwhile, two sisters were seriously injured after they were knocked down by a school bus in Vasai in Palghar district on Friday, a police official said, reported PTI. The siblings, in the 2-7 age group, were hospitalised following the incident, which took place at 2pm when they were crossing a road, he said. "They were knocked down after the bus took a u-turn. The driver immediately applied brakes and along with passersby pulled out the two girls from near the tyres. They rushed the siblings to a hospital," he said, reported PTI. The police are probing the incident, the official added. A video of the accident went viral on social media.  Meanwhile, three teen boys have gone missing from Srinagar area of Thane city, a police official said on Friday, reported PTI. The three set out together from their homes in Shivaji Nagar on February 28 and have been untraceable since, the Srinagar police station official said. "We have registered a kidnapping case since the boys are minors. Two are 15 years old and one is 14. Police teams have been formed to trace them," he added, reported PTI. (With inputs from PTI)

02 March,2024 10:50 AM IST | Palghar | mid-day online correspondent
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Mumbai: Fire breaks out at Aarey Colony in Goregaon

A fire broke out in Mumbai's Goregaon area on Friday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said. The fire erupted in AMC unit 21 in Aarey Colony near Tapeshwar mandir in Goregaon East, the civic body said. Fire breaks out at Aarey Colony: Incident reported by Mumbai Fire Brigade According to BMC, the incident was swiftly reported by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's Mumbai Fire Brigade. The fire was confined to a heap of dry grass, dry leaves, etc. "Cooling operation is in progress," the BMC said. Mumbai Fire Brigade initiated firefighting operations, deploying one hose line to combat the flames. The situation was deemed to be under control. Fire breaks out at Aarey Colony: Mumbai Fire Brigade and the local police department Authorities mobilised in response to the incident included BMC's Mumbai Fire Brigade and the local police department.  The BMC said that no injuries were reported in the incident. Fire breaks out at Aarey Colony: Earlier incidents Meanwhile, a major fire broke out in a slum in Bhayandar on Wednesday. The blaze reportedly erupted in the Azad Nagar slum area of Bhayandar East in the wee hours, resulting in one confirmed death and five reported injuries. Among the injured are two minors and three officials from the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) fire department, who sustained injuries while carrying out rescue operations. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined, and an investigation is underway. Earlier, a fire Brigade official said a phone call received about a "blaze" in a Mumbai high-rise residential building housing staffers of a Maharashtra government-run hospital in south Mumbai on Monday night turned out to be a false alarm as no such incident had taken place, reported news agency PTI. The official said they have asked the Mumbai police to take action against the unidentified person for raising a false fire alarm and causing panic, reported PTI. He said the person at around 8.45 pm told them there was a "short circuit" in a flat on the 14th floor of the Mumbai high-rise residential building housing staffers of state government-run GT Hospital, reported PTI. As per SOP, they sent fire tenders to the spot, where no blaze or smoke was detected, said the official. Meanwhile, a fire broke out at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Pise Water Pumping Station on Monday evening, leading to a significant impact on water supply across several parts of Mumbai. (With inputs from PTI)

02 March,2024 10:12 AM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
Former police officer Sachin Waze on March 9, 2004. File pic

State objects to Waze’s application to turn approver

The state has objected to former police officer Sachin Waze’s application to turn approver in the custodial death case of Khwaja Yunus. Waze is the prime accused in the case. In his reply filed on Thursday, Special Public Prosecutor Pradip D Gharat cited a number of grounds for the objection, including contradictions in Waze’s statements made at different times regarding his role in the case, which could lead to the possibility of him ‘misleading’ the court. Waze and three policemen are accused in the death of 27-year-old software engineer Khwaja Yunus, who was arrested in the Ghatkopar bomb blast case which killed two people in December 2002. In January 2003, Yunus was said to have ‘escaped’ when the vehicle in which he was supposedly being taken to Aurangabad met with an accident. He was never seen again. A court-directed inquiry conducted by the state CID alleged that 14 policemen had connived in the custodial torture of Yunus and in disposing of his body. However, the government sanctioned the prosecution of only four policemen, who were charged with murder and destruction of evidence. Waze is accused No. 1. He and his three co-accused were supposedly ‘escorting’ Yunus to Aurangabad. A petition seeking that the government sanction the prosecution of the other 10 policemen is pending in the Supreme Court. Also Read: Sachin Waze gets court's nod to execute power of attorney in connection with publication business Claims and reply In his handwritten application filed on January 29, Waze had said that he was ‘suffering’ due to the pendency of the matter for the last 20 years. But Gharat has pointed out that Waze got bail in the case way back in June 2004. Also, Waze himself had caused delays in the case by challenging the orders passed by various courts. Currently, Gharat pointed out, Waze is in jail in another matter: the Antilia bomb scare case that took place in 2021. Waze’s application stated that he only joined the Khwaja Yunus investigation on January 6, 2003. He claimed he had “no mechanism or authority to verify the identity of the already arrested terrorists.’’ He even claimed that “the terrorist Khwaja Yunus as appears in the photo in the case papers as well as in the newspapers was never handed over to me.” But, Gharat pointed out, the charge sheet against Waze has police witnesses stating that Waze had interrogated Yunus the whole day on January 6, 2003, starting from 12.30 pm. Besides, both in his petition filed in 2005 before the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court, and in the judicial inquiry initially conducted into Yunus’s disappearance, Waze had said that he reported to the DCB, CID, Powai on the morning of January 5, 2003, and interrogated Yunus in the afternoon. Either his averment in his application, or these averments made before different forums have to be false, says Gharat’s reply.  These contradictions show that Waze “will not disclose the truth and will try to mislead the court,” read the reply. Waze had also made personal remarks against Gharat in his application, accusing him of taking a stand that would “cause injustice’’ to him and everybody concerned and “cause further indefinite delay”. Objecting to these remarks, Gharat’s reply pointed out that in the past, too, Waze had made similar remarks against public prosecutors in this case. Gharat’s reply includes objections filed by the police to Waze’s approver offer. In that, they trace the history of the case and point out that Waze’s original FIR filed against Yunus for allegedly having “escaped’’ was closed as per court orders as B Summary (maliciously false). They also recall that finding Waze uncooperative, the police had sought to conduct a narco-analysis test on him. But he managed to get a stay on it. This also creates a doubt that Waze would mislead the court, they state. Gharat has urged the court to reject Waze’s application. Jan 29Day plea was filed

02 March,2024 07:20 AM IST | Mumbai | Jyoti Punwani
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