A sessions court on Monday sentenced 10 men to life in jail for the murder of two Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) men at Powai in 2004.Soon after the incident, there was communal tension in the area, but police investigations revealed that Hoshila Prasad Upadhyay and Navin Dubey were stabbed to death because of personal enmity. The duo had been opposing illegal hooch business run by local strongman, Sher Bahadur Khan (66).
Upadhyay and Dubey were attacked by a group of men while they were walking down Filterpada in Powai on March 20, 2004. Police said the two first got into a scuffle with Sher Bahadur, who returned with his three sons and six other men. The VHP men died of multiple injuries from the assault. Police picked up ten men, including Sher Bahadur and his sons, Yusuf, Rauf and Arif, for the murder. They were charged with criminal conspiracy and murder.
Initially, the police slapped the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against all the men-Sher Bahadur, Akhtar Hussain (41), Yusuf Khan (38), Yakub Khan (55), Amroz Khan (25), Aftab Khan (26), Rauf Khan (35), Khwaja Khan (50), Ariz Khan (28) and Akhtar Siddiqui (47).
However, the Bombay high court quashed charges under MCOCA and ordered all the accused to face trial under conventional sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The prosecution examined 11 witnesses to build up its case and when the court found them guilty the death penalty was asked for.
"The court did not agree that it was a case that could be termed rarest of rare and awarded life sentences to the accused,'' said advocate Khan Abdul Wahab.
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