The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Missing guns mystery

Burdwan, Sept. 16: The district police are in a fix after two revolvers valued at more than Rs 8 lakh went missing from its custody after a local court ordered they should be returned to the rightful owner.

The police had seized the licensed English Webly-Scott and Csech Zbrojovka from a person accused of murder.

After Ash Mohammad was implicated in the June 6, 1986, murder the weapons were kept in the district court’s storeroom.

Mohammad was acquitted of the murder charge by both Calcutta High Court and the Supreme Court after a 15-year trial. Absolved of the charge, he sought the session court’s permission to get back his revolvers.

The police initially tried to cover-up, claiming that the revolvers were returned in 1987. But they failed to explain how and why they had returned the arms to a person accused in a murder case without the knowledge of the court.

Finding no way out of the botch-up, district superintendent of police B.N. Ramesh ordered a departmental inquiry into the case of the missing revolvers.

The police had arrested Mohammad from his Kesabganjhati residence and charged him with murdering his wife and seized the revolvers. The trial began at the sessions court which held him guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987. Mohammad moved the high court against the sentence and a division bench of Justice Ajit Sengupta and Justice Manabendra Roy acquitted him on July 5, 1990.

The prosecution then took the case to the apex court where the high court order was upheld.

When the police failed to return the weapons, Mohammad drew the court’s attention.

The court asked Ramesh to fix responsibility for the missing guns. The superintendent then instituted the probe into the incident and submitted a report saying: “Golam Mustafa, who is in charge of the court store room, is responsible for the missing revolvers from the police custody. A departmental proceeding has started against him.”

However, the court is not happy. “It was the duty of the superintendent of police to file a suo motu case against the illegal removal of firearms. It was his legal obligation,” said additional sessions judge P.C. Barman.

Mohammad alleged the officer in-charge of the store room had approached him for a settlement. “I have refused to accept money from him as compensation for the revolvers which were unique in their make and value.”

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