A day after Madhukant Jha, the cabbie who drove sergeant Bapi Sen’s alleged killers around the city on New Year’s eve, turned hostile in court by refusing to recognise the five reserve force constables, his help, Mewalal, admitted on Tuesday that the five men who took their taxi on the night of December 31 and the ones in the dock were the same.
“Mewalal’s statement was recorded in court today and he has recognised all the constables,” said public prosecutor Ashok Bakshi.
“He has even admitted that the five constables had been to Park Street and near Hind cinema, where an altercation broke out between the accused and Bapi Sen,” Bakshi added.
The case came up for hearing at the court of 12th city sessions judge Basudeb Majumdar, where lawyers grilled Mewalal.
However, like his boss, Mewalal, too, refrained from making any statement about the assault on Bapi Sen by the five constables, which eventually led to his death at a city hospital.
“Both Mewalal and driver Jha have refused to talk about the actual assault on Bapi, but that hardly matters, since we have many witnesses who saw from close quarters Bapi Sen being beaten and have given the court valuable insight into the incident,” said Bakshi.
Unlike Jha, Mewalal corroborated his earlier statement to the police that the five accused in the dock were the same men who had hired the taxi on Park Street that evening.
Mewalal admitted in the packed courtroom that a Maruti car stopped in front of the taxi near Hind cinema, where a quarrel ensued between driver Madhukant Jha and a youth, who is presumed to be Bapi Sen. The case was adjourned for the day after the cross-examination.
Deputy commissioner of police (detective department) Soumen Mitra said: “The case against the arrested constables is still very strong” and there was no reason to panic.
“We have plenty of witnesses who had seen Bapi Sen being brutally assaulted. One witness turning hostile doesn’t matter in such strong cases,” Mitra added.
Apart from Bapi Sen’s five friends, the prosecution on Tuesday claimed they had “independent witnesses” who had identified all the five constables as Bapi Sen’s killers.
Jha contradicted his earlier statements on Monday at the city civil and sessions court, saying that while passing Wellington Square, a Maruti car stopped his taxi and a youth emerged from the car, asking for his licence and blue book. Jha denied the entire incident involving the assault on Bapi Sen.