Celebrity public prosecutor, Ujjwal Nikam, has sensationally withdrawn himself from the trial in Mohsin Shaikh’s murder, where members of the right-wing Hindu group are facing grave charges.
A letter by Maharashtra’s law and judiciary department on 19 May said, “In view of the request by advocate Ujjwal Nikam, seeking cancellation of his appointment as the special public prosecutor for conducting the case pending before the sessions court Pune … the Government of Maharashtra hereby cancels the appointment of advocate Ujjwal Nikam as special public prosecutor with immediate effect.”
Nikam, who was recently given the Padma honours by the Centre’s Narendra Modi government, had told a session court on Monday that he was withdrawing from the case as prosecutor. It’s not clear why he has sensationally pulled out of the case. Nikam has chosen to avoid all media requests to comment on the reason.
Mohsin’s family has, however, written to Nikam requesting him to reconsider his decision.
Late Mohsin’s father Sadiq Shaikh, told The Hindu, “It is a shock for us. We were certain of justice when Mr. Nikam agreed to fight this case on our behalf.”
Sadiq has reportedly told Nikam to not be bothered by allegations by certain individuals within the Muslim community, who had opposed his appointment as the prosecutor in his case.
A little-known outfit, Rashtrapremi Kruti Samiti (RKS), in the late 2014, had written to the then Congress chief minister opposing Nikam’s appointment as the prosecutor. The outfit had alleged that Nikam had close links with with extremist right-wing Hindutva organisations.
The RKS president, Anjum Inamdar said, “Mr. Nikam has been felicitated by a number of Hindutva and fringe right-wing organisations including the Abhinav Bharat, allegedly responsible for the Malegaon bomb blasts.”
The latest setback to the Mohsin murder case comes after the Bombay High Court stunned everyone by blaming Mohsin’s religion Islam as the main reason for his murder.
While granting bail to one of the main accused, Justice Mridula Bhatkar observed that the victim’s fault was that he belonged to another religion.
“I consider this factor in favour of the applicants/accused. Moreover, the applicants/accused do not have any criminal record and it appears that in the name of the religion, they were provoked and have committed the murder,” Justice Bhatkar observed.
17 out of 23 accused in Mohsin’s murder have been granted bail while the main accused Dhananjay Jayram Desai is currently locked in jail.
On 2 June 2014, Pune’s 28-year-old Mohsin Shaikh was on his way back home after the evening Isha prayers, when members allegedly belonging to Hindu Rashtra Sena attacked him before lynching him to death.
The Hindu Rashtra Sena members had attacked Mohsin, who was returning home with his friend Riyaz, allegedly due to a derogatory Facebook post on Shivaji and Bal Thackeray, the founder of Shiv Sena.
A case of murder was registered against the members of HRS at the Hadapsar police station and 21 HRS members, including their leader Dhananjay Jayram Desai alias Bhai, were arrested.
The chargesheet against them had said, “The activists were carrying hockey sticks, wooden batons etc. During the meeting, they started discussing that HRS president Dhananjay Bhai has said that Muslims should be thrashed for posting derogatory pictures of Shivaji Maharaj on Facebook. Their vehicles, shops should be damaged. They should not be allowed to do any business in the area. There should be terror of HRS in Hadapsar.”