LUCKNOW: In a major development, a CBI court on Wednesday acquitted BSP MLA and don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari and his six aides accused in 2005 murder case of BJP leader Krishnanand Rai in Delhi on Wednesday. The decision in the infamous gruesome murder case, which had shaken the Hindi heartland a decade and a half ago, came as all the eyewitnesses and material witnesses turned hostile.
Delivering the verdict, the court laid emphasis on witness protection scheme during the trial saying that had the prosecution witnesses not turned hostile, the outcome of the trial would have been different. Besides Mukhtar, the court also acquitted his brother Afzal Ansari (now BSP MP from Ghazipur), Azaz-ul-Haq, Sanjeev Maheshwari, Rakesh Pandey, Ramu Mallah and Mansoor Ansari.
The court expressed displeasure over the failure of investigators to bring enough evidence to prove charges levelled against the accused persons who were allegedly responsible for the killing of seven persons, including Rai, considered to be a leader of repute in eastern UP.
"This is a gruesome case involving the murder of seven persons. The investigation of the case was transferred from UP Police to CBI. The trial of the case was also transferred from UP to Delhi. Unfortunately, the case of the prosecution has suffered as all the eyewitnesses and other material witnesses turned hostile...,” said the special CBI judge Arun Bharadwaj.
He added that it was another example of the prosecution failing due to hostile witnesses. “If the witnesses, in this case, had the benefit of the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 during the trial, the result may have been different," said the Special Judge while exonerating all the accused.
The trial of the 2005 murder case was transferred from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh to Delhi by the Supreme Court in 2013 on a plea filed by Alka Rai, widow of Krishnanand Rai, the BJP from Mohammadabad constituency. He was killed on November 29, 2005, along with six others.
BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai was shot more than 100 times with incessant firepower from AK-47 while he was returning home from a family function in Ghazipur. He was forewarned by Special Task Force officers of hired killers. Rai was allegedly coaxed to start a cricket match in Siyari and was persuaded not to use his bullet-proof vehicle or guards. He was ambushed on his way back home by assailants. Seven people died in a murderous attack.
The incarcerated MLA from Mau in eastern UP, Mukhtar Ansari has several criminal cases of murder, extortion and abduction, pending against him in a number of UP courts.
Dreaded gangster Munna Bajrangi, who was prime accused in BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai's murder, was murdered last year in Baghpat jail by a fellow inmate. Earlier, the Allahabad High Court had directed a CBI inquiry into Rai's killing. Challenging the HC order, the then Mulayam Singh Yadav's government had moved the Supreme Court, which refused to allow its plea saying the case deserved to be probed by the country's premier investigating agency.