The bullet that killed 18-year-old Aditya Sachdeva was fired from a gun belonging to Rakesh Ranjan alias Rocky Yadav, the son of a JD(U) legislator, the preliminary findings of a forensic team examining the evidence in the sensational case have indicated.
The data, submitted to additional chief judicial magistrate Sanjay Kumar Jha on Saturday, said the bullet came from the same Italian Beratta that was recovered from the accused.
Rocky, the 21-year-old son of JD(U) MLC Manorama Devi, has been charged with shooting the teenager in a case of road rage on the Gaya-Bodh Gaya stretch at 8.30 pm last Saturday. He was reportedly enraged that Sachdeva and four of his friends had overtaken his Land Rover while returning from a friend’s birthday bash.
Rocky had bought the firearm on a licence issued by a Delhi rifle club. The gun was reportedly issued on the basis of the accused’s contention that he owned a business in the Maoist-infested Chatra district in Jharkhand, and therefore faced a threat to his life.
Gaya senior superintendent of police Garima Malik has stated that they will soon file an “iron-cast chargesheet” against Rocky, but four of Sachdeva’s friends – who were present in the car when he was killed – have been unable to identify the accused from a test identification parade.
However, police said both circumstantial and hard evidence in the case linked Rocky to the crime, and he was “clearly implicated” by his own confession as well as the statements previously recorded by the deceased’s friends before the magistrate. The detailed ballistics report will come out only later, they added.
The police had paraded Rocky, his cousin Teni Yadav, and Devi’s bodyguard Rajesh Kumar Yadav before the four.
Sources said that while the forensic science laboratory (FSL) has found that the same gun was used in the shooting, there were no fingerprints linking Rocky to the crime. This may have occurred due to the weapon changing hands several times after the incident – ultimately compromising the evidence.
Some experts believe mishandling of the weapon after its recovery may allow Rocky’s lawyers to argue in-culpable murder, and secure some immediate relief from the court. “We have more evidence to prove it as an in-culpable murder case. Neither the evidence nor the witnesses could pinpoint the exact shooter, leaving room for benefit of doubt,” said senior criminal lawyer Qaisar Sarfuddin.
Gaya police also drew criticism for the manner in which they dumped the bloodstained clothes of the victim, which could have yielded vital clues in the case, in a dustbin outside the autopsy room. It was later retrieved by relatives of the deceased, who gave it the police for scientific examination.
However, investigators claimed that clothes were not essential to the case because Sachdeva’s bloodstains had been recovered from the car itself.
The manner in which Rocky was taken into custody has also been questioned. Soon after the MLC’s son was arrested, he was remanded in judicial custody without being subjected to proper questioning under Section 164 of the CrPC – a mandatory step. He was handed over to the police only after five days.
Although Rocky confessed to shooting at Sachdeva, he pleaded innocence by saying that he never intended to kill anybody. “I just fired rounds in the air to stop the Swift car from overtaking us; the killing was accidental,” he reportedly said.
Police seized Rocky’s Land Rover soon after the incident occurred, but parked it outside the Rampur police station without sealing it. They also failed to check if the bodyguard was drunk at the time of the incident.
The incident spurred large scale protests that put the Nitish Kumar government on the backfoot, with the BJP-led Opposition denouncing the “breakdown of law and order” in the state. While Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan termed the shooting as “the return of jungle raj” in Bihar, the BJP held protest rallies in Gaya as well as other areas.