Nagpur: In the much-publicised Chaitanya Ashtankar kidnapping case of 2016, the Special Judge for Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), M Salman Azmi on Friday awarded life imprisonment to four accused — Mukesh alias Chati KishorTaywade, Ishaq Shaikh Israil Shaikh, Durwas Bhagwan Kohad andTayyub Shaikh Samsher Shaikh.
The court acquitted three other accused — Rasheed Diwan, Prabhakar Khobragade and Pradeep Ninawe — as the charges could not be substantiated against them.
According to the prosecution, 14-year-old Chaitanya Ashtankar, Standard VIII student, was kidnapped by the accused from near his house at Manish Nagar after he alighted from a school van and started walking towards his home with a friend around 2.30 pm on January 7, 2016. The kidnappers dragged Chaitanya into a Maruti Eeco car (MH40/AR-0613) and took him away.
An old acquaintance of the Ashtankar family, aware of the Ashtankars getting a handsome amount in a land deal, was found to be behind the kidnapping. The accused made phone calls twice to the boy’s parents — Subhash and Sunanda — who are teachers in different schools, for ransom of Rs 50 lakh and threatened to kill their son like Yug Chandak if they failed to fulfil their demand. Soon after receiving the information about the boy’s kidnapping for ransom, the entire police machinery was put to task.
Combining technology with human intelligence, police were able to zero in on the culprits at Khapa village, near Nagpur. Chaitanya was safely rescued within 33 hours of the incident from the clutches of accused Ishaq Sheikh, who was roaming in forest with the boy riding pillion on his bike (MH-31/ER6336) around midnight about 15 km from Khapa. Since the location of the call was at Khapa, Pradeep Ninave, in whose house the Ashtankars had lived on rent a few years ago before shifting to Nagpur, became the prime suspect since he knew of the Ashtankars’ land deal gain.
The probe also revealed that the accused, who were arrested on charges under Sections 363, 364 (A), 120B and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), read with Section 3(1) of the MCOCA, did a recce of the Ashtankars’ residence for about six months before kidnapping Chaitanya.
The then Assistant Commissioner of Police (Sonegaon) Shekhar Tore investigated the case and chargesheeted the accused. The court examined 21 prosecution witnesses. As the charges were proved against Mukesh Taywade, Ishaq Shaikh, Durwas Kohad and Tayyub Shaikh under Sections 364(A) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, the court sentenced them to life imprisonment.
Special Public Prosecutor Adv Abhay Jikar represented the State.