Mumbai: Turns out VIPs get to use special entrance gates even when they’re going to court to answer charges of culpable homicide. Yug Pathak, son of retired IPS officer K K Pathak and one of the co-owners of Mojo’s Bistro, is certainly a VIP for Mumbai Police. Not only did they take the Kamala Mills fire case accused through a special gate reserved for court staff, the police team even sent a decoy through the regular gate to keep the media distracted.
There was high drama at Bhoiwada court yesterday, as close to 50 media persons waited to catch a glimpse of Yug Pathak, who stands accused of culpable homicide after a fire at his pub Mojo’s Bistro killed 14 people on December 29. Around 1.30 pm, the sight of the police’s Bolero jeep stirred the waiting journalists into motion, as they chased the vehicle. In the vehicle was a man in a grey hoodie covering his face with a handkerchief. A few policemen stepped out of the vehicle, along with the man, who was presumed to be Pathak. Everyone fell for the trick, and they chased the man right until he entered the court premises. Some TV reporters used their boom mics to push the cops aside in their attempt to get close enough to get a comment from Pathak on the case.
Meanwhile, a few minutes later, another convoy of police vehicles arrived at the second gate of the courthouse – a gate that leads directly into the court staff offices. A second team of policemen hurriedly sneaked the real Pathak – in a blue T-shirt – through the gate, leaving very little time for the media to react. mid-day was one of the fortunate few to catch Pathak entering the court.
When it was finally time for Pathak to leave, however, the journalists were wiser, and lay in wait for him. When this reporter questioned the NM Joshi Marg police why they had used a decoy, one of the officers responded, “It was a strategy to protect the accused from any mishap.”
On Friday, the fire department submitted its fire probe report, confirming that the Kamala Mills blaze had started from Mojo’s Bistro. The report further stated that embers from one of the hookahs – served illegally at Mojo’s – had probably sparked the fire. The report also pointed out several irregularities at the pub.
Soon after the report was released, the police booked both the directors of Mojo’s under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code. They arrested Pathak at his house but were unable to find the other director, Yug Tuli. The cops have now issued a lookout circular (LOC) for him.
In the courtroom
The prosecution sought Pathak’s custody on the grounds that they wished to conduct detailed investigations into the case and question him on the whereabouts of the other accused. Reacting to this, Pathak’s lawyer told the court that Pathak was not present at the time of incident, but his staff had evacuated everyone. The lawyer further stated that the fire department’s report was inconclusive. He claimed that Pathak had been arrested solely on suspicion.
The advocate added that Pathak’s arrest was a mistake, that no casualty was reported at Mojo’s, so section 304 could not be imposed on his client. He also said that Pathak was cooperating with the investigation and the cops had recorded his statement twice. The court remanded Pathak in police custody till January 12. Meanwhile, the police have formed five teams and sent them to various locations across Maharashtra and other states to search for the absconding accused.
No. of people who died in the Kamala Mills blaze
No. of police teams formed to catch the absconding accused
—As published in MidDay