Mumbai: One more prosecution witness on Monday turned hostile in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh alleged fake encounter case taking the count of hostile witnesses to 45.

The witness, a schoolteacher, had in 2010 assisted the CBI in translating statements given by eyewitnesses on the abduction of Sohrabuddin, his wife Kausarbi and associate Tulsiram Prajapati from a luxury bus on November 23, 2005. Two of those eyewitnesses had turned hostile in December claiming that they did not see any co-passenger on the bus being abducted by policemen.

According to a The Indian Express report, the schoolteacher in Sangli, Maharashtra, told the court on Monday that in 2010, a CBI officer had come to his school and said he requires someone who is proficient in Gujarati and Marathi. “Since I knew the languages, I helped in translation of one statement shown to me by the officer,” the witness told the court. Special public prosecutor BP Raju asked him whose statement it was. The witness said ‘Sohrabuddin’. When asked again by the prosecutor, however, the witness did not say the name and subsequently said he did not remember whose statement it was.

The prosecution, however, did not probe into his initial answer. The prosecution declared him hostile after he denied most of his statements allegedly made before the CBI in 2010.

In 2010, the CBI claimed that a police inspector had visited the school along with a branch manager of the State Bank of India. The manager and the teacher were taken to the local police headquarters where they were shown statements of four co-passengers, all belonging to one family, recorded in Gujarati and were asked to translate them into Marathi so that the four could read the statements and sign on them. The witness had also allegedly told the CBI then that he was introduced to the four eyewitnesses, who were also present at the headquarters.

The CBI claims he was also told then about the alleged abduction and shown eight photographs including those of Sohrabuddin and his wife, which were identified by the eyewitnesses. The witness, however, denied all this.

“It is not true that I was introduced to (the two eyewitnesses) who were present there and told us that they were traveling in a bus where Sohrabuddin, his wife and associate were abducted from,” the witness said.

He also denied that the branch manager of SBI was present at the time of translation instead claiming that he was accompanied by a fellow teacher. He also denied that his statement was taken or that a panchnama was drawn up in his presence.

The witness denied contents of the panchnama he had signed relating to the photographs. On the prosecution case pertaining to abduction of Sohrabuddin and others, so far, two eyewitnesses along with the cleaner and driver of the bus have been examined. All of them have denied the abduction and have been declared hostile.

On Monday, the examination of another witness was deferred as one accused, who was directed to be present during his deposition for identification, did not appear in court. The court deferred the hearing to Monday and directed that the expense for the stay and travel of the witness be borne by the accused. The court also said that if the accused is not present on Tuesday, ‘strict view’ will be taken.

 

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Lucknow: An FIR has been lodged here against the makers of web series 'Tandav' and Amazon's India head of original content for allegedly depicting Hindu gods in a manner hurtful to religious sentiments of the people.

The FIR against Aparna Purohit, the head of Amazon's India head of original content, director of the series Ali Abbas, producer Himanshu Krishna Mehra, writer Gaurav Solanki, and an unknown person was lodged late on Sunday night by senior Sub Inspector Amar Nath Yadav at the Hazratganj Kotwali police station here.

The film starring Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Sunil Grover, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Dino Morea, Kumud Mishra, Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, Gauhar Khan and Kritika Kamra, premiered on the streaming platform on Friday.

According to the FIR, following public outrage expressed on social media platforms, the web series was viewed and it was found in the 17th minute of the first episode of the series that Hindu gods and goddesses have been presented in an "undignified manner' and shown using language which is hurtful to religious sentiments.

Dialogues in the web series can incite caste anger, the FIR alleged.

It also alleged that the person occupying the high post of Prime Minister of India has been portrayed in a very belittling manner besides there are scenes in which castes have been presented as low and high and women in an insulting manner.

The FIR further alleged that intent of the web series is to incite religious sentiments of a particular community and create enmity among classes.This act of the producer-director has hurt and incited religious and caste sentiments of the people, the FIR added.

Taking cognizance of complaints that Hindu gods and goddesses have been ridiculed in the web series, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had on Sunday sought an explanation from streaming platform Amazon Prime Video on the issue, sources had said.

The development came after BJP MP Manoj Kotak on Sunday said he has written to Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar seeking a ban on Amazon Prime Video's series 'Tandav' for ridiculing Hindu deities.

"The ministry has taken cognizance of the matter (complaints) and asked Amazon Prime Video to explain," a source in the ministry had said.

Kotak, the MP from Mumbai North-East, said different organisations and individuals have complained that Hindu gods and goddesses have been ridiculed in the 'Tandav' web series.

When contacted about the complaints, Amazon Prime Video PR had said the platform "won't be responding" on the matter.

The government recently brought OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar, besides other online news and current affairs content, under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, giving it powers to regulate policies and rules for the digital space.