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Prisoner's innocence proved after 11 yrs

UNI
Oct 16, 2006 at 09:02pm IST

Pune: A poor rag picker, who was given a lifer for rape and murder of a minor, has been found to be innocent after 11 years and three months.

Forty-five year Arugam Munnaswai Kounder, who speaks only Tamil, came to Mumbai for employment and pay off a debt of Rs 1,000 in 1995, when he was picked up by the police for the rape and murder of a minor girl.

Arugam told reporters here that he never knew his crime.

JUSTICE TOO LATE: A Q Bargir in his suicide note said he falsely implicated Arugam on the orders of the then DCP Chowgule.

''I was just picked up and never told my crime and later got convicted for it''.

The incident came to light when in a suicide note written to the then Mumbai Police Commissioner by a PI with the Oshiwara Police Station, Abdul Qadir Bargir, said he falsely implicated Arugam on the orders of the then DCP Nand Kumar Chowgule.

From then the matter was fought by human rights activist, Asim Sarode who ran from pillar to post and finally given a hearing by Justice H Gokhale of the Bombay High Court, who gave a release order on Saturday.

''In the case, police has not followed judicial norms, there has been glaring miscarriage of investigations while also misguiding the court'', remarked Sarode.

He said that an accused has to be told his offence, every investigation and finding conveyed to family or close friends, even every proceeding that concerned him had to be informed that also was not followed. Besides language proved to be huge barrier as Arugam could speak only Tamil. It was his right to know the happenings in court, he said.

When asked for the next course of action, Sarode said, he was hopeful that the real killers would be booked and compensation of Rs 25 lakh be given to Arugam to begin life afresh.

At the time that Arugam was arrested, he had an ailing father, a wife and a young child. ''I want to know whether they are still there for me,'' he said.

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