When cops nabbed an innocent man

When cops nabbed an innocent man

Common name, residency, profession leads police on a wrong trail in Manipal case

What’s in a name, one may ask like the Bard of Avon did eons ago. However, when you are Anand Poojary of Manipal, who unfortunately seemed to have had a doppelganger bearing the same name, one would only wish there was no such uncanny coincidence.

For, this not only led to his needless arrest but a series of embarrassing troubles for “innocent” Anand before the right man was held by the police. In a case of mistaken identity, wrongfully arrested by an overzealous police wanting to see early closure to their Manipal gang-rape investigation, Anand Poojary had to bitterly pay for sharing the same name and go through a lot of distress before the police realised they had the wrong man when the real Anand fell into their dragnet.

As if real life mimicking reel drama, Anand Poojary was booked in Maharashtra as the third accused Anand in the now infamous Manipal rape incident. Anand’s trouble was that not only did he share the same name and surname, but also the same calling — auto and taxi driver and, above all, the same village of residence – Parkala.

Elusive culprit

Following clues gathered from one of the accused Hariprasad during their investigation, a team of enterprising police left for Goa in search of the elusive Anand.

Further sending them on a false trail was the mobile tower signals, that saw the police trace Anand, the wrong one, in Nasik, Maharashtra. They posthaste left for Maharashtra to arrest him. However, the police had to eat humble pie when they were able to nab the real Anand in Manipal and release the wronged Anand. A distraught, but nevertheless much relieved Anand Poojary, recounting his distressful moments, told Deccan Herald that he had left Udupi with a pilgrim group for Shirdi on Monday night, as a family from Udupi had hired his car to Shirdi. An auto driver, Anand also rents out his taxi for long distance tours.

He then spent two nights in Goa. According to him, the police behaviour, however, put his aged mother through traumatic moments, when she was shocked to see the TV channel scrolling that her son was held in the gang-rape case. She recovered only when she came to know the truth.

Anand Poojary, married to a KMC staff, and residing in Parkala, said he was asked to wait in Nasik police station as the police who took his snap from mobile phone had sent the photograph to Manipal police for verification.

The police had also another reason to suspect Anand Poojary because when police had summoned the autorickshaw drivers from Parkala for interrogation, Anand was in Bangalore. He, therefore, could not immediately respond to police summons.

Anand’s nightmarish brush with the law came to a happy end only when the real accused was finally caught by the police. Superintendent of Police Boralingaiah conceded that they were confused with Anand Poojary, as both had similar names, hailed from Parkala, besides being auto and taxi drivers.

Kerala delegation

Meanwhile, the Kerala state Women Commission chairperson K C Rosa Kutty said that the victim will be discharged from hospital in next three days.

Briefing reporters, she said quoting doctors that wounds on victim’s body were healing and she can be discharged in three days’ time. There is no need for her to stay put in the hospital anymore. “She is stable.”

Kutty added that she would not like to hold any one responsible before going in-depth into the issue and also without receiving the statement of the victim.

Rosa Kutty added that victim remains reluctant to divulge further and she and her family do not intent to co-operate with the police apprehending that it would affect the victim’s future.

Kutty was of the opinion that the girl’s statement is very crucial and her evidences matter the most. A report on her visit will be submitted to the Kerala chief minister. “We did not meet the victim or her parents. They do not want to reveal anything,” Kutty said.
Accused stable

Both the accused in the Manipal gang-rape case, who attempted to commit suicide, are undergoing treatment in Manipal.

According to the police, the condition of one of the accused, Yogesh, continues to be critical, but stable. The other accused Anand is said to be totally out of danger. It is said that Anand might be discharged on Sunday.

Following the discharge, both the accused will be ‘technically’ arrested by the police and will be produced before the court within 24 hours of their arrest.