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TANDOOR MURDER CASE: Sushil Sharma found guilty

Press Trust of India

Posted: Nov 03, 2003 at 1553 hrs IST

A Delhi court on Monday held former youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma guilty of killing his wife Naina Sahni and burning her body in the tandoor (oven) of a restaurant in the Capital on July 2, 1995.

However, the court acquitted the other three accused jai Prakash Pehlwaan, Rishi Raj Rathi and Ram Prakash Sachdeva of charges of harbouring Sharma for want of evidence.

The court will hear arguments on sentence on Wednesday.

ASJ Thareja also directed the chief metropolitan magistrate to prosecute senior IAS officer D.K. Rao, the then resident commissioner of Gujarat Bhawan for allegedly harbouring Sharma after the gruesome murder.

Thareja also asked the Gujarat chief secretary to take appropriate administrative steps against the employees of Gujarat Bhawan in Delhi for "dereliction of duty".

According to the police, after the murder, Sharma had stayed with his IAS friend D.K. Rao at Gujarat Bhawan that particular night and fled to Jaipur the next day.

From there, Sharma went to Mumbai and later Chennai and got anticipatory bail. A police team led by Additional Commissioner of Police Maxwell Pereira flew to Chennai. But Sharma escaped to Bangalore, where he surrendered on July 10, 1995. Thereafter he was arrested and brought to Delhi.

According to the police, Sharma killed his wife as he had doubts over her fidelity. He believed Naina to be indulging in an affair with her classmate and fellow Congress worker Matloob Karim.

Sharma bashed Sahni up on many occasions, police alleged. Besides, while Sharma wanted to keep his marriage with Sahni a secret affair, she asked him to make it public.

On the night of July 2, 1995, Sharma, who reached his flat at Mandir Marg in the heart of the Capital, saw Sahni consuming liquor and talking to someone on the telephone.

She put down the receiver as soon as she saw him. Doubting that she was chatting with Karim, Sharma redialled the number, police alleged, adding his doubts were confirmed when Karim responded at the other end.

A furious Sharma took out his licensed revolver and fired three shots at Sahni. While one bullet pierced through her head, the other hit her in the neck. The third one missed her and hit an air conditioner.

Sahni died on the spot, police alleged. Sharma later took the body in his car to the Bagiya restaurant, where he and restaurant manager Keshav Kumar attempted to burn her in a tandoor there.

Police recovered Sharma’s revolver and blood-stained clothes and sent them to Lodhi Road forensic laboratory. They also took blood sample of Sahni's parents — Harbhajan Singh and Jaswant Kaur — and sent them to Hyderabad for a DNA test.

According to the lab report, "Blood sample preserved by the doctor while conducting the post mortem and the blood stains on two leads recovered from the skull and the neck of the body of deceased Naina are of 'B' blood group."

Confirming that the body was that of Sahni, the DNA report said, "The tests prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the charred body is that of Naina Sahni who is the biological offspring of Mr Harbhajan Singh and Jaswant Kaur."

In the chargesheet, the prosecution had listed 99 witnesses but later it dropped 18 of them. However, the court recalled six witnesses taking the total number of prosecution witnesses to 87 apart from the six court witnesses. Over 450 dates were given in the case.

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