BHUBANESWAR:Ten years after the tender fixing row raised its ugly head with the broad daylight shootout that claimed two lives in the City, gangster Anil Chhotray and 15 others including eight high-profile contractors of the State were acquitted of the charges of murder by the court here on Friday.
The Court of Additional District Judge-2 Ishan Kumar Das cleared Chhotray and others of murder and conspiracy charges in absence of sufficient evidence.
Besides Chhotray, Babu Lenka, Artatrana Pradhan, Babuni Behera, Sukanta Behera, Santosh Nayak, Menta Nayak, Rohit Das, Dambarudhar Agarwal, Subhash Agarwal, Ashok Jalan, Ashok Basa, Padmal Charan Patra, Surendra Nayak and Pramod Rath were acquitted of the charges pressed under Sections 302, 120 (B), 109 and 34 of Indian Penal code as well as 25/27 Arms Act.
The case was initially being probed by Bhubaneswar Police before Crime Branch took over the investigation.
One of defence counsels Soura Mohapatra said the ballistic report of the empty cartridges did not match with that of the fire-arms police had seized from the accused. Besides, prosecution could not substantiate the conspiracy angle under which the contractors were booked.
On April 18, 2005, Subash Chandra Das and Dhiren Kumar Sethi were chased by three unknown persons who gunned them down near Water Resources Department’s Prachi Divisional Executive Engineer’s office at about 12.45 pm.
An FIR was filed by Prakash Chandra Das, brother of deceased Subash. Nayapalli Police started investigation and Chhotray’s name cropped up soon.
What appeared like gang fight turned out to be a tender war with several top contractors of the State brought under the scope of investigation before being arrested and chargesheeted.
Of the 16 who were acquitted, Chhotray, Lenka and Pradhan were behind bars when the judgment was delivered while the rest were out on bail.