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Delhi cops take charge of Sharma

Sept. 28: A day after his dramatic surrender in an Ambala court, Shivani Bhatnagar murder accused R.K. Sharma was handed over to Delhi police today.

Sharma was sent to 10-day police custody by the Delhi metropolitan magistrate, J.P. Narain. The suspended IPS officer had been brought to Delhi on a transit remand to appear before the court.

As he left Ambala after spending a night in jail, wife Madhu said: “I am only worried what will happen if he is remanded in police custody by the Delhi court. He may be tortured.” Sharma’s lawyers had yesterday appealed that he should not be handed over to Delhi police because he feared torture.

Public prosecutor S.K. Saxena had sought 14-day police custody to interrogate Sharma. He said Delhi police want to question the accused about some documents from the Prime Minister’s Office that were allegedly passed on to journalist Shivani Bhatnagar and then stolen from her house by the hired killers. Sharma, then an officer on special duty at the PMO, was one of Shivani’s regular “sources”, Saxena said. Sharma’s counsel, R.K. Nasim, argued that Sharma was “hounded and harassed” by the Delhi police, whose intention to seek custody was to further “humiliate” him.

The counsel pointed out that Sharma had already been interrogated by the Delhi police, who had even subjected him to lie detector tests. He has taken two lie-detector tests in three years since Shivani, an Indian Express reporter, was found murdered in her Delhi flat in January 1999.

The magistrate ordered the police custody after hearing brief prosecution arguments.

Delhi police had arranged for tight security at the court complex. The complex was cordoned of and men in uniform guarded Sharma as he was produced in court. In Ambala, Sharma’s wife said: “He slept late and woke up late too. But he is feeling okay.” Along with daughters Komal and Pragati, she had spent two hours in jail with him. The family is claimed that Sharma is being framed.

A senior Haryana police officer echoed them, saying: “He is innocent and is being framed.” “Despite his alleged involvement in the case, there is no policeman here who has not saluted him,” the officer added. Sharma was accompanied by Haryana police personnel to the border with Delhi.

The VIP treatment meted out to Sharma by the police Ambala has not been taken to kindly by relatives of Shivani’s husband, Rakesh. Brother-in-law Subhash, an advocate who lives in the city, charged the Haryana police with “shielding” Sharma for nearly two months.

Asked if he stood by his wife’s statement on the involvement of Union minister Pramod Mahajan in the murder, Sharma merely said his family had already given the politician’s name.

Haryana police sources close to Sharma said the mystery of Shivani’s murder would unravel once he was allowed his say in court by the Delhi police. “They can get any confession from him while he is in their custody. This case is far from being solved. Many big names will be dragged into it,” an officer said.

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