The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Crashing with the BMW: two tall men and a slippery one
- Key witness to hot potato

New Delhi/Mumbai, June 3: Sunil Kulkarni’s criminal record and his meetings with the counsel for Sanjeev Nanda were the main reasons he was dropped as witness in the BMW hit-and-run case, Delhi police have claimed.

Kulkarni, a builder by profession, is accused in three cases of extortion and blackmail in Mumbai. Real estate agent Gaurishankar Tiwari had filed an FIR against him in July 1999, accusing Kulkarni of cheating him of Rs 1 lakh.

The case had been gathering dust because the police could not trace Kulkarni. The matter has now come to light because of Delhi police’s inquiry about Kulkarni’s Mumbai address.

Delhi police knew Kulkarni could be the key to nabbing Nanda, who is accused of running over and killing six persons with his BMW in 1999.

“We had three witnesses to start with, of whom two (a survivor and a petrol pump attendant) looked shaky from the start. They were clearly overawed by the people they had to testify against.... Perhaps, we failed in protecting them from influence. But both, very early in the case, started pleading to be dropped as witnesses,” a senior officer said.

Kulkarni was the only witness not to have turned hostile but his “reputation” worked against him, another added.

He was “clearly negotiating with the defence from almost the start”, he said.

Defence lawyer R.K. Anand, allegedly caught in a sting operation discussing the case with Kulkarni, has called the witness a blackmailer.

Kulkarni knows he is at the centre of a storm — the uncertainty in his voice reveals as much. “They are ganging up against me — the defence and the prosecution,” he said.

Kulkarni questioned the rationale in dropping him as a witness. “Okay, so I am involved in other cases concerning my business. How does that affect this case' Instead of appreciating the courage it takes to stand up against the rich and powerful, the police want to target me,” he said.

Kulkarni accepted the police allegation that he had lied about his Mumbai address but said he had “no option”.

“I want to help the investigations, but I do not want to put my friends and family at any risk. And I am extremely suspicious of the police. That is why I lied.”

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