Mistaken identities: Men jailed for crime never committed – False Dowry death case
LUCKNOW: Although the Bard would think otherwise, there is a lot in a name. Sanjay Sharma and Manoj – both from Firozabad and languishing in jail because of mistaken identities – will vouch for it.
Behind the bars for over eight months now, Sanjay has been booked under the Gangster Act merely because he shares his first name with an elusive listed gangster of Firozabad. Manoj has been in the prison for almost three years for a murder that never took place. He was arrested as his father-in-law identified a body as that of Manoj’s wife and accused him of killing her. Ironically, in Sanjay’s case, his old parents have been running from one police station to another, looking for their son who ‘disappeared’ eight months ago till a recently released jail inmate informed them that Sanjay is in jail.
“They picked him up from the roadside and did not even bother to inform us about it. This shows that they knew they were booking a wrong person,” said Sanjay’s mother Laxmi. “When we went to lodge a complaint that our son was missing, they refused to lodge a case,” added his father Mahesh Sharma. The old couple has now lodged a complaint with the district police chief superintendent of police (SP) Firozabad, Manjil Saini. “We are looking into their complaint and if the information is found to be true, we will surely ensure his release and arrest the real culprit,” Saini told TOI.
Surprisingly, instead of admitting their mistake, the police claim that the delay on the part of Sanjay’s parents to inform the police about their son’s innocence was also worth investigating. “Why did they take so much time to inform the police?” Saini asked. Manoj on Surajpur village in Shikohabad, was married to Seema, daughter of Shivraj Singh of Ghungharia village in Mainpuri district in 2002.
On January 12, 2009, Seema disappeared from her in-law’s house. On January 25, 2009, police found thbody of woman hanging from a tree. Two days later, Shivraj approached the local police to claim that the body was that of his daughter Seema and accused all her in-laws of murdering her for dowry. Acting on Shivraj’s complaint, police were quick to arrest Manoj and his young sister for the murder. While the teenaged girl was released on bail about a month later, Manoj is yet to walk free.
The case however took a curious turn when Seema suddenly surfaced before the senior police officers of the district last Thursday to claim that she was very much alive and had left her husband on her own accord. “The police produced her before additional district and session’s judge (ADSJ) (VIII) Alpana Singh on Friday where her father confirmed that she was his daughter. Now. the court has summoned Seema’s mother for identification before proceeding further,” said Manoj’s elder brother Veer Bahadur Singh, talking to TOI on phone from Firozabad.
Allegations are that at the time of his arrest, Manoj repeatedly pleaded innocence but the police paid no heed to his pleas. “They never even tried to verify if the deceased had been identified correctly as her parents did not identify the dead body but its photograph instead,” Veer Bahadur said