Police produce CDRs in HC in builder Loharia murder case

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Sunil-Kumar-Loharia12In keeping with a judicial order, police on Tuesday produced before the Bombay High Court ‘Call Data Records’ of telephone talks purportedly held between senior police officers and some accused in the murder of Navi Mumbai builder Sunil Loharia.

The records, produced during the hearing of a PIL alleging police-accused nexus, contain purported telephonic talks between Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner AK Sharma and absconding accused Anurag Garg.

Accepting the CDRs, a bench headed by Justice P V Hardas asked the investigating agency to produce ‘case diaries’ in sealed covers by February 25.

The bench also asked police to flag those pages in the case diaries which pertain to investigation of telephonic talks between police officers and the accused.

The court was hearing a petition filed by ex-scribe Ketan Tirodkar, who prayed for transfer of investigations to an independent agency such as CBI as he alleged that the accused were allegedly shielded by police.

Tirodkar alleged that there was evidence with the investigating authorities to show that the Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner and a senior police inspector were in touch with the accused before and after Loharia’s murder in February 2013.

Earlier, the prosecution had informed the court that the statements of police officers were yet to be recorded and that steps were being taken to declare absconding accused as proclaimed offenders and attach their properties, so as to compel them to appear before the trial court.

The petitioner alleged that rival builder Suresh Bijlani and architect Anurag Garg, both accused in the case, were spotted by Loharia’s son in the police station where he had gone to lodge a complaint. Bijlani has since been arrested while Garg is still absconding.

A senior police inspector had also refused to name these two accused in the FIR, Tirodkar alleged. Investigations in this case were earlier being made by Navi Mumbai police but later the probe was given to Mumbai Crime Branch.

The petitioner said Loharia was shot dead outside his Navi Mumbai office on February 16 last year. On the next day, he claimed, there were five telephonic conversations between the Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner and accused Suresh Bijlani and Anurag Garg, lasting from 80 seconds to 100 seconds on cell phone.

Tirodkar said police had recorded such talks and were aware about this. Two days after Loharia’s murder, the police chief issued a look out notice against Bijlani and Garg, although the duo were very much accessible to him, going by the telephone records police have collected during the probe, he alleged.

Tirodkar contended that no efforts were being made to conduct a sincere probe as senior police officials were allegedly involved.

On the contrary, he alleged, efforts were being made to shield the guilty. Hence, he was demanding a CBI probe into Loharia’s murder.

The petitioner said Loharia had himself filed a petition in the High Court alleging 600 illegal constructions in Navi Mumbai, including the 21 towers being built illegally on the Palm Beach Road.

Loharia had also urged the court that his petition be heard expeditiously as his life was in danger. Four days after that he was killed, Tirodkar said and produced a letter written by the victim in this regard to the court registrar.

Tirodkar further alleged that Loharia’s son had also received a threat on phone warning him against lodging a police complaint.

The petitioner also alleged that political pressure had been put on deceased Loharia by a Maharashtra Cabinet Minister asking him not to take up the issue of illegal construction.