dasna jail ' suicide' gets a poison twist

Adv P & H High Court Chandigarh

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THE MYSTERY of Frontier Mail blast accused Mohammad Shakeel's " suicide" has deepened after a forensic examination revealed traces of poison in his viscera.


The discovery of aluminium phosphide in Shakeel's viscera by experts at the Agra Forensic Lab has cast fresh doubts over his alleged suicide in the highsecurity cell of Dasna jail on June 19 last year.


Jail authorities said Shakeel had hanged himself with his lungi ( wrap- around) in his cell and left behind a suicide note in which he had claimed that he was " dying of his own will". Shakeel's post- mortem examination had failed to pinpoint the cause of his death. But his viscera was preserved and three samples were sent to the Agra Forensic Lab for examination.


The report, which was filed on March 5, stated that traces of aluminum phosphide was found in jar numbers one and two while the sample in the third jar was devoid of poison.


On March 25, the Dasna jail superintendent, V. K. Singh, sent a letter to district magistrate R. Ramesh Kumar apprising him of the contents of the viscera report and urged him to take " relevant and necessary action" in the matter.


The discovery of poison in Shakeel's viscera raises many questions over the jail authorities' suicide theory, bringing along with it a whiff of murder, sources said.


And all this cannot be done without the collusion of jail authorities, they pointed out.


When contacted, Singh said: " The aluminum phosphide found in Shakeel's viscera could be attributed to the use of insecticides which are used on wheat and other


food grains. Aluminum phosphide is also used as a fumigant for rodents and insects." He added, " Still, the presence of this compound in the viscera is a matter of investigation."


Shakeel was an accused in the 1996 Frontier Mail bomb blast case in Ghaziabad. The son of Pilakhuwa resident Suleman, Shakeel was arrested after his involvement in the blast at Ghaziabad


station came to light.


He was also accused of involvement in terror- related activities in the Capital in 1997. Various sections of the Indian Penal Code ( IPC) including 302, 307 and 121 ( a) as well as the Explosives Act were then slapped on him.


Shakeel was subsequently convicted for his terror activities in Delhi while trial was on in the train blast case.


He was transferred to the Dasna jail in Ghaziabad in 2006. Since then, he was confined to the solitary cell, barrack no. 5.


On the day he " committed suicide", the police said, around 3 pm, he tied his lungi and bedsheet together and hooked the makeshift cord on the 11- feet- high roof. He then hanged himself.


The new twist in Shakeel's ' suicide' case also raises fresh doubts over the death of Ashutosh Asthana, a key accused in the multi- crore PF scam. Asthana, who was lodged in the same jail as Shakeel, was found dead on October 17, 2009, in his cell.


In his case, too, the postmortem examination report had failed to pinpoint the cause of his death. The findings of the viscera report were also inconclusive.





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