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Police on fast track, Sarangi in shock

Mumbai, May 5: Mumbai police swung into action on the day of Pramod Mahajan’s funeral, securing sanction to prosecute brother Praveen for murder and moving to fast-track the case.

Praveen’s lawyer Nandkumar Rajurkar said the police had moved an application before Bhoiwada court magistrate R.T. Bagade yesterday, seeking permission to amend the sections against his client.

Praveen was earlier charged under two sections of the Indian Penal Code, including section 307, for attempt to murder, and under the Indian Arms Act for misusing a licensed weapon.

The charges have been altered to murder (section 302) after Pramod succumbed to multiple bullet injuries on Wednesday.

The police will next seek the state home department’s permission to get the case assigned to a fast-track court so that the trial can be speeded up. State home minister R.R. Patil is not likely to hold up sanction.

Joint commissioner of police (law and order) Arup Patnaik said: “A move to assign the case to a fast-track court is definitely on the cards.”

The police will file charges in the case after investigation formalities, such as ballistic reports from a Hyderabad forensic lab, are done. The three bullets in Pramod’s body were removed during post-mortem and sent to Hyderabad.

Rajurkar said Praveen’s wife Sarangi and their two children are not likely to visit Praveen at Arthur Road jail soon. The Thane-based family had skipped the funeral.

“She (Sarangi) continues to be in a state of shock. I reckon she would take at least two weeks to recover from the twin blows of Pramodji’s death and the arrest of her husband. At the moment, she has not indicated that she wants to meet Praveen,” Rajurkar said.

In a special gesture, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to alter his official schedule tomorrow and call on Pramod’s family at their Worli home after a programme at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Singh will deliver the convocation address and lay the foundation stone for the Jamshedji Tata Centre for Disaster Management. Ratan Tata and chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh will be present.

Police officers beefed up security arrangements at Purna apartments, where Pramod’s family stays. “Singh will visit Purna at 2.30 pm,” state BJP chief Nitin Gadkari said.

Pramod’s son Rahul and brother-in-law Gopinath Munde collected the BJP leader’s ashes from the Shivaji Park crematorium. An urn containing the ashes was kept at the BJP headquarters at Nariman Point.

Party sources said the ashes would be immersed in various rivers, including the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Godavari.

“Party workers from all over India have been calling us to demand that Pramodji’s ashes be sent to their state. An urn of ashes will be immersed in the Banganga heritage tank at Malabar Hill and another urn will be taken to New Delhi on Monday,” a Pramod aide said.

The BJP is yet to take a decision on releasing a book of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s speeches that Pramod had lined up for May 10. He had squeezed time out during the Assam poll campaign to write a preface.

Titled Rajniti Ke Us Paar (Beyond Politics), the book puts together 25 of Vajpayee’s non-political speeches. Pramod had planned to get Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to release the book in New Delhi.

“Pramodji slated the release for May 10 in New Delhi because the Lok Sabha opens that day,” an aide said.

“Besides, he knew election results would be out by May 11 and didn’t want the book release to be affected if the results were poor for the BJP.”

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