Top cop, three others held guilty in Shivani Bhatnagar murder

March 18th, 2008 - 5:50 pm ICT by admin  


New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) A city court Tuesday held former Indian Police Service (IPS) official R.K. Sharma and three others guilty of the murder of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar nine years ago. Additional Sessions Judge Rajendra Kumar Shastri held Sharma and his associates, Pradeep Sharma, Satya Prakash and Sri Bhagwan guilty of murder and hatching a conspiracy to eliminate Her. Bhatnagar, then journalist with the Indian express newspaper here, was found murdered in her east Delhi apartment Jan 23, 1999.

The quantum of sentence will be pronounced March 20, Thursday.

However, the court acquitted two others, Ved Prakash Sharma and Ved alias Kalu, on benefit of doubt and lack of evidence.

Reacting to the conviction, R.K. Sharma said: “This is just a publicity stunt.”

Dressed in pink t-shirt, Sharma looked tense but confident that he will be acquitted sooner or later.

The court March 5 reserved the judgement for Tuesday after the prosecution concluded its final arguments in the case. A total of 209 witnesses were examined in the case. Of them, 51 turned hostile.

Sharma had surrendered to a court in Ambala, Haryana, Sept 27, 2002.

He later confessed to the police that he came in contact with Shivani when he was posted as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) with the then prime minister I.K. Gujral. He was allegedly in a relationship with the journalist.

The investigations revealed that when the murder took place, Shivani was on maternity leave.

Earlier, when Shivani went to London for three months, Sharma had made 90 international calls to her from Mumbai.

However, Sharma accused former union minister Pramod Mahajan of having a “love affair” with the reporter and getting her murdered.

Sharma termed Mahajan’s affair with Shivani as “common knowledge”. “Everyone knew, except the Delhi Police.”

Sharma and the three have been charged under Section 302 (murder), 120 B (conspiracy), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 403 and 404 (dishonest misappropriation of property).

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