Murdered pilot’s family battles for justice

June 4th, 2008 - 11:00 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil
By Vishal Gulati
Shimla, June 4 (IANS) The father of a murdered Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot is finding the battle for justice really tough - because lawyers in the region are refusing to take on the alleged killer who is also an advocate. The tragedy of the 24-year-old fighter pilot, Flight Lieutenant Anubhav Rao, refuses to end, nearly two months after he was stabbed to death in a road rage case in Himachal Pradesh.

The man accused of plunging the knife into Rao April 11 is Solan-based lawyer Hari Dass Tanwar. The incident took place near Mashobara village on the outskirts of Kasauli town.

Lawyers of Kasauli and Solan towns are simply not willing to take up the case of the murdered pilot.

The pilot’s father, Ram Kumar Yadav, a senior scientist at the Haryana Agricultural University in neighbouring Haryana’s Hissar town, has been demanding a probe by a central agency into the murder. He fears that the local police are not conducting the probe in a fair manner.

Yadav, who spoke to IANS, says the accused lawyer is getting the support of his fraternity, making it impossible for him to get someone to fight the case.

The anguished father has written to President Pratibha Patil, the supreme commander of the armed forces, seeking justice for his slain son.

Although no lawyer wants to be quoted, most are very vocal in their support for Tanwar.

They say that Tanwar was not at fault and was travelling with his family when the crime took place. They said he used the weapon in self-defence.

Ashok Tanwar, president of the Kasauli Bar Association, admitted that the accused lawyer had local sympathy. Asked if it was true that the lawyers were not ready to fight for Rao, Tanwar said even he would not take up the case.

But he added: “Although the lawyers have sympathy for the accused, it is for the court to decide who is at fault. The lawyers are not influencing the case.”

The victim’s father is a worried man. He fears that the accused could end up influencing the probe in his favour.

“Being a lawyer, he can easily influence the police, his fraternity and witnesses,” he petitioned to President Patil.

Yadav added that if the accused got bail, he would further influence the investigation.

The accused is in judicial custody. His bail plea will come up for hearing Thursday in the court of District and Sessions Judge P.C. Sharma.

The dead pilot, who was posted at the IAF base at Ambala in Haryana, was visiting Himachal Pradesh with three friends. On the way to Kasauli, they got into a row with the lawyer over overtaking on the road.

Solan Additional Superintendent of Police S.R. Rana said the two groups chased each other for some kilometres before they got down and had a fight.

Tanwar took out a sharp-edged weapon and allegedly stabbed Rao and his friend Sameer Yadav.

Rao was taken to a military hospital at Kasauli, from where he was referred to the Chandimandir Western Command Hospital near Chandigarh. He was declared brought dead.
Police said Tanwar was drunk when he attacked Rao.

The IAF says it cannot do much because the police are involved. “But if the father were to write to us, we could request the district magistrate concerned to ensure fair play,” an IAF official told IANS in New Delhi.

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