June 29, 2020
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Trial And Error

The Nadeem drama shifts to London, but does the Mumbai police have evidence to nail him?

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Trial And Error

EVEN as anything more than indicatory evidence of Nadeem Akhtar's alleged role in the Gulshan Kumar murder eludes the police, the drama is next set to be played out in a small courtroom on Bow Street in central London. Britain's Crown Prosecution Service, acting for the Mumbai Police, will seek Nadeem's extradition to India, a case he strongly resists—all the makings of a surrogate murder trial.

Over the past three weeks, it became clear that Nadeem had no intention of returning to Mumbai, despite his declarations. In early September, he had said he would leave for Mumbai within 10 days or two weeks. But soon after, he hired solicitors Henri Bradman & Co to represent him. Nadeem told the magistrate before whom he was produced last Wednesday that he was planning to return to India but had been delayed by his wife's illness. He also managed to secure bail on those grounds.

According to Indian High Commission sources, the arrest by Scotland Yard came after the Mumbai Police sent a communication that Nadeem was unlikely to return home on his own for some time. Nadeem, 43, was picked up from the house of his cousin Nazish Chouglay who lives in North London.

 "The charge against him is that on or before August 12, Nadeem Akhtar Fifi conspired with others to murder Gulshan Kumar in Mumbai," a spokesman for Scotland Yard told Outlook. Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service have prepared a case to seek Nadeem's extradition.

An extradition order can be passed only if the magistrate is convinced that a credible case against him exists in India. Nadeem would, of course, have the right to appeal. With the defence contesting the claims of the Mumbai Police, the legal process could take months. His application for renewal of bail is due to come up in the magistrate's court on September 24.

It is not clear what evidence the Mumbai Police has in hand. None of the actual killers of Gulshan Kumar has so far been arrested. Vicky Wahi, who is said to have organised the murder and was present at the scene, fled to Uttar Pradesh and is believed to have been killed. His body was reportedly found near the IndoNepal border. The two other killers, iden -tified as Anil Sharma and Raju Rauf, have not yet been nabbed.

What the police have are the confessions of members of the Abu Salem gang who claim that Nadeem paid them Rs 35 lakh to execute the killing. Also, it has information about those present at the May meeting in Dubai where the alleged plot was hatched. A travel agent and the person who provided the funds to buy the Maruti car used in the killing are in police custody. Beyond this, it is not clear how the police can link the murder to Nadeem in a court of law.

The music director has pleaded innocence. He admits that he had met Abu Salem, an ardent fan who had even expressed his appreciation of the musical nite in Dubai. According to the police, the plot to kill Gulshan Kumar was hatched after this show. Nadeem denies this, saying he has been made a scapegoat, and that the police should hunt for the real plotters.

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