Accused owes govt Rs 94 lakh

A businessman accused in the Lakhan Bhaiyya fake encounter case, involving arrested encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma and several other policemen, has failed to pay for his police escorts while undergoing treatment at a private hospital, sources say. He now owes Rs 94 lakh to the state government.

Janardhan Bhanage (55), a businessman from Navi Mumbai who is paralysed from neck down, has not paid the police escorts' fees since June 2011, sources said. The Local Arms branch of Mumbai Police, which provides police escorts to accused, has finally woken up to the situation, and only recently sent him two notices demanding payment.

Bhanage was admitted to a private hospital in Navi Mumbai on Bombay High Court's direction in August 2010. The court's order came with a rider that he pay for the police escort. Officials said Bhanage has an escort team of three constables. On an average, an escort is paid a basic sum of Rs 800 per shift.

"We have sent him a second reminder. We have also marked copies to the trial court and High Court registrar's office," said a senior police officer.

However, additional commissioner of police (local arms) Vijay Chavan said, "My officers have not informed me about it. I will have to look into it before commenting."

According to prosecution, Bhanage had an old score to settle with Lakhan Bhaiyya. Bhanage allegedly aided Sharma in nabbing Lakhan Bhaiyya.

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