A Delhi court on Wednesday, July 3, acquitted gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari and five others in connection with the 2005 murder case of Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Krishnanand Rai. The court cited hostile witnesses as the reason for the acquittal.
Talking about the absence of a witness protection programme during the trial, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court said that the outcome of the trial could have been different if the witnesses had not turned hostile.
"This is a gruesome case of murder of seven persons. The investigation of the case was transferred from UP police to CBI. The trial of the case was transferred from UP to Delhi. Unfortunately, the case of the prosecution has suffered as all the eyewitnesses and material witnesses turned hostile," said special judge Arun Bhardwaj.
Rai, an MLA from the Mohammadabad seat in Ghazipur, was gunned down along with six others on November 29, 2005, when he was returning from a family wedding.
The CBI later charged Mukhtar Ansari, a Bahujan Samaj Party MLA from Mau in Uttar Pradesh, with planning the murder. Ansari, who has more than 40 criminal cases registered against him, was in jail since 2005.
The trial of Rai's murder was transferred from Ghazipur to Delhi by the Supreme Court in 2013, based on a plea filed by Alka Rai, Krishnanand Rai's wife. Apart from Ansari, the court also acquitted his brother Afzal Ansari, Azaz-Ul-Haq, Sanjeev Maheshwari, Rakesh Pandey, Ramu Mallah and Mansoor Ansari.
Bajrangi was arrested from Mumbai in 2009 by the special cell of the Delhi Police and died inside Baghpat jail last year.
The court held that the investigators failed to prove the charges against the accused by not producing sufficient evidence.