Car dealer Gunjan Ghosh and six of his associates were convicted on Friday for the abduction of Roma Jhawar in 2005, ending a trial full of twists and turns.
Two of the accused, both former guards at the Jhawar residence in Salt Lake, were acquitted for lack of evidence.
Baby-faced Gunjan, in a pink shirt, displayed no emotion when the first additional district and sessions judge of Barasat pronounced him guilty of masterminding the abduction and extracting Rs 20 lakh in ransom from Roma’s family.
“Justice has not been done. I will appeal against the conviction in the high court,” Gunjan, 28, later told Metro.
Judge Samaresh Prosad Choudhury will announce the sentence on Saturday.
Neither Roma, who is now married and lives in Mumbai, nor any member of the Jhawar family was present when the judge gave his verdict. The only family members in the first-floor courtroom were of the men on trial. Gunjan’s mother Krishna sat stoically, just like her son.
Roma was going to college in an Indica around 8.15am on February 4, 2005, when a Maruti Omni owned overtook her around 50 metres from the Jhawar residence at CB-68. She was whisked away at gunpoint and freed late that night, after Rs 20 lakh had changed hands. Police had then claimed to have “rescued” Roma from a Phoolbagan garage and insisted that no ransom was paid.
Breaking her silence in an interview to The Telegraph on February 11 that year, Roma quoted one of the abductors as telling her: “We are doing it for money, we just need money.”
Gunjan was traced on the basis of recorded cellphone conversations between him and Roma’s brother Rajesh on the day of the abduction. The then home secretary, Amit Kiran Deb, was later summoned to court to confirm that he had authorised the investigators to tap the phones. “Electronic evidence was accepted for the first time in a criminal case in Bengal,” a lawyer said.
As the investigation progressed, Gunjan's involvement in three unsolved murder cases — one of the victims was his partner-in-crime, Arvind Bhai — became clear. He is facing trial separately in these cases.
Ramchandra Singh, the Jhawars’ part-time driver who had given Gunjan information about Roma, was the first among the nine accused to break down in court on Friday. Gunjan’s other accomplices were Munna Shaw, Bikash Shaw, Guddu alias Dinesh Yadav, Sukumar Mondal and Mukesh Singh. The acquitted guards are Damodar Yadav and Dasarath Yadav. Another accused, Pappu Mahato, is absconding.