//Day of drama and confusion in Mahajan case

Day of drama and confusion in Mahajan case

New Delhi, June 3 (IANS) It was a day of dramatic developments and conflicting versions related to the case involving suspected poisoning of Rahul Mahajan, son of late Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Pramod Mahajan, who still remains in a Delhi hospital and death of his father's close aide Bibek Moitra.

Even as the hospital gave clean chit to Rahul saying no trace of cocaine was found in his blood, Delhi Police registered a case of drug abuse and destruction of evidence against 'unknown persons'.

'The case has been registered under section 27 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,' additional deputy commissioner of police Manish Agarwal told IANS.

Former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde, Rahul's uncle, asserted that the latter was never into drugs and that there had been an attempt to poison late Pramod Mahajan's son at the Thursday night wild party at Mahajan's 7, Safdarjung Road bungalow in the Indian capital.

Even as Delhi Police said they were looking for Sahil Zarru, one of the four youths who were at the party, the 21-year-old landed at the studio of Aaj Tak TV network in Jammu and Kashmir summer capital Srinagar after flying in from New Delhi to say he had no role in the death of Moitra or the party itself.

'There is no conspiracy. I myself have been a victim of it,' Sahil told a stunned television audience. But he admitted that he had tasted 'something' that was on the table at the house and soon lost consciousness.

'I have no idea what was happening (at the party). They were consuming something. I did taste it. Within two seconds I lost consciousness. I had no idea where I was, I was puking throughout the way,' he said.

His lawyer Aslam Goni said Sahil would surrender to police. Even as Sahil continued to speak, Jammu and Kashmir police officers appeared at the studio and took him away.

Goni said: 'Friendship with biggies has caused my client much trouble. He is not involved in any way with the tragedy. He was not the supplier (of cocaine). He has surrendered and he is ready to cooperate with the investigation.'

Sahil is likely to be brought here Sunday by a Delhi police team.

Three of the four people who were present at the drug-laced drinking bout Thursday night were interrogated by Delhi Police Saturday. They also questioned Sahil's father Ghulam Mohammed, a New Delhi-based businessman.

Three others, Karan, Trishay and Rahul Malhotra who were also present there, had approached police Friday night offering cooperation.

According to the version given to police by this trio, Sahil allegedly bought cocaine for Rs.15,000 from a peddler in the posh area of Vasant Vihar in south Delhi. Moitra, the youths said, provided the money.

'Bibek gave Sahil Rs.15,000 to get the cocaine. These three youths are completely innocent. They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time,' their advocate Ranvir Singh Kundu told IANS.

According to the three, after meeting Bibek and Rahul, Sahil went into the house with them as the others waited outside.

Sahil then emerged after some time, reportedly exclaiming, 'These guys have gone mad. They want the stuff.'

They further told the police it was Sahil who took them to the Mahajan bungalow and they were never a party to the drug deal.

Rahul, along with Moitra, was taken to the Apollo hospital early Friday after they were found unconscious at their Safdarjung Road residence. Moitra was declared dead by the hospital on arrival.

Although doctors at the Apollo hospital said they found no cocaine in Rahul Mahajan's blood or urine, his uncle Munde said: 'I have known Rahul for years. He was never into drugs and I suspect he has been poisoned.'

Anupam Sibal, medical director of the Apollo Hospital, told reporters: 'We (doctors) can't say what toxin it was that caused his unconscious state when he was brought in to the hospital. We did mandatory tests on 14 to 15 drugs and all of them proved negative.

'At this moment we are unable to identify what caused his multi-system dysfunction. But we do not know what the forensic tests will reveal.'

Meanwhile, police were looking into all possible angles and awaiting the chemical examination and microbiological test reports from the forensic lab.

'Rahul Mahajan, who is recuperating in Indraprastha Apollo hospital, was given semi-liquid food this evening and his health condition has further improved,' a hospital official informed.

'He is talking comfortably and is on a recovery path but he continues to be in the intensive care unit,' the hospital official added.

The police has so far not questioned Rahul Mahajan.

Pramod Mahajan, who was the BJP general secretary, died May 3 after being shot at his Mumbai residence by his brother Pravin. He succumbed to his bullet wounds after a 12-day fight for survival at the Hinduja hospital.

In the meantime, the BJP has distanced itself from Rahul.

'This is a family matter and this can happen to anyone. The party has nothing to say on this,' said party leader Sushma Swaraj after the top brass met at the New Delhi residence of senior colleague L.K. Advani.

'Party leaders have been conveyed the message that no one would make any personal or official comment on this episode to the media,' a BJP leader told IANS.

© 2006 Indo-Asian News Service