Pappu Kalani, 3 others get life sentence in 23-yr-old murder case

Former Ulhasnagar MLA Suresh alias Pappu Kalani and three others on Tuesday were awarded life imprisonment by a Sessions Court here in a 23-year-old murder case.

65-year-old Kalani and three others were found guilty by the court in the case on November 29.

The ex-MLA had been convicted for criminal conspiracy by Additional Sessions Judge Rajeshwari Bapat-Sarkar, who acquitted two others for want of evidence.

Ghanashyam Bhatija was murdered on February 27, 1990 near the Pinto Resorts in Ulhasnagar of Thane district. His brother Inder Bhatija, who had seen the murder, was also shot dead on April 27, 1999 despite having police protection.

According to police, both the murders were a fall-out of long-standing political and criminal enmities. The police had filed charge sheet against Pappu Kalani, Bacchi Pandey (50), Baba Gabrial (52), Mohamad Asrat Sheikh (45), Narendra Ramsinghani and Richard.

While Bacchi, Baba and Mohamad were held guilty of murder, under section 302 of IPC and conspiracy, Kalani was convicted only for conspiracy (section 120-B of Indian Penal Code).

Ramsinghani and Richard were acquitted in the case for want of evidence. Kalani was president of Ulhasnagar Municipal Council and Congress MLA at one time. Later he floated his own party.

After the ex-MLA and three others were found guilty by the court, special public prosecutor Vikas Patil had last week sought death penalty for all the four convicts.

He said that Kalani had a criminal record and Bhatija's murder was well planned. Patil argued that Kalani was involved in over two dozen murder cases, some of which are still under trial. However, the defence counsel had argued that since the crime did not fall in the rarest of rare cases, Kalani and others did not deserve death penalty.

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