The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Estranged kin of Zahira made trial witness

Ahmedabad, Oct. 10: The Best Bakery carnage retrial has taken another turn, with Zahira Sheikh’s estranged sister-in-law Yasminbano being made a witness.

Yasminbano has been going around calling key witness Zahira names, including a “liar and greedy woman”.

She has made it clear her intention is to “expose” Zahira, who “has given the wrong names of innocent people” in last March’s massacre in which 14 people were burnt at the Vadodara bakery.

Yasminbano’s name was included in the amended list of witnesses submitted yesterday by Vadodara joint police commissioner K. Kumarswamy. The move — the affidavit was filed in response to a high court order — is bound to hold up and complicate the retrial.

Eighteen months after the carnage, Yasminbano surfaced in Vadodara a fortnight ago. Police sources said she was brought in by Madhu Srivastava to counter Zahira, who alleged the BJP legislator had threatened witnesses into silence.

Claiming to be a witness to the carnage, Yasminbano has asserted that the 21 people Zahira identified as accused were actually “innocent”.

The rioters were outsiders who had not been identified and no Hanuman Tekri locals were involved, she said.

This is what Madhu and his cousin Chandrakant Srivastava, against whom an FIR has been filed for intimidating witnesses, have also been claiming. When Yasminbano landed in Vadodara, she stayed in the house of Lal Mohammed, a Madhu loyalist.

Sources said the MLA helped her renovate the bakery, where she is now staying.

Yasminbano has also claimed that Zahira did not want her to give her statement to the police. She alleged that Zahira and her mother forced her to leave Vadodara but “now I’m going to tell everything and want to become an eyewitness”.

Chandrakant, who claims he saved the Sheikh family from the rioters, says “ungrateful Zahira” had given a statement against him.

“Now we have Yasminbano, a member of the family who will refute Zahira’s claim.”

Vadodara police commissioner Sudhir Sinha said although Yasminbano had seen the carnage, she was not made a witness. But he could not explain why the police had not taken her statement.

The police chief, however, expressed misgivings on how much weight Yasminbano’s words would carry as she had been contradicting herself.

“We do not know how she will convince the court that she is not lying when she is grilled by a battery of advocates,” he said.

Yasminbano is away visiting relatives in Chhotaudepur. She is expected to return by October 15. Zahira lives in Mumbai with her mother and brother.

Email This Page