January 29, 2017 5:00:09 am
A special court in Indore on Saturday sentenced four people to life in prison for 38-year-old activist Shehla Masood’s murder in Bhopal. Masood was found dead in her car after leaving home for a rally in support of anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare in August 2011. The murder probe was transferred to the CBI after the police appeared to suggest that Masood may have committed suicide even though no gun was found in the car. It was argued that the car’s doors were closed and there were no signs of struggle.
The CBI arrested designer Zahida Parvez, 41, in February 2012. It said that Pervez had hired killers to kill Masood over her growing proximity to BJP legislator Dhruvnarayan Singh, whom she was in love with. Singh’s father, Govind Narayan Singh, was Madhya Pradesh chief minister in the 1960s. Parvez, the mother of two, had maintained a diary that had details of her romantic involvement with the legislator and why she was angry with the two. “Either, I will commit suicide or eliminate her,’’ she wrote in the diary.
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The prosecution called the murder a crime of passion that cost Singh his political career. The defence cited “many discrepancies” and said that they would challenge the verdict. Parvez was sentenced to life in prison along with Saba Farooqui, her friend, Shaqib and Tabish. Irfan Ali, the fifth accused, had turned approver and was acquitted. “I am stunned. There was no evidence, no witnesses and yet such an extreme verdict,’’ Parvez shouted. The CBI chargesheet recorded that Singh and Parvez had fights as she suspected he had relations with other women, two of whom she mentioned in the diary. She wrote that she was depressed but was relaxed after hearing about the murder.
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The activist’s father, Masood Sultan, welcomed the verdict but said that his reaction would have been the same if the accused were acquitted. Singh was the first person Sultan spoke to after the murder. He was a frequent visitor to their house. The CBI exonerated Singh saying that he was unaware of the conspiracy. Singh was then in the ministerial race and was not given ticket for the 2013 elections. Parvez and Singh had become friends after she was empanelled as an architect though she did not have requisite qualifications during the BJP leader’s tenure with Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation. She felt that Shehla was blocking her contracts using RTI applications.
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