Tandoor Murder case: Convict MLA in wife’s murder released after serving 22 Yrs jail time

New Delhi: On receiving information about a fire emanating foul smell at the Ashok Yatri Niwas Bagiya restaurant on the night of July 2, 1995, turned out to be one of the high profile cases with Constable Abdul Nazir Kunju witnessing victim Naina Sahani’s severed body being disposed off in restaurant tandoor.

Victim Naina Sahahni was the wife of accused Youth Congress leader and MLA Sunil Sharma.

A 1970-batch Indian Police Service officer Maxwell Pereira was the Additional Commissioner of Police, New Delhi investigating the murder case of Naina Sahani which went on to be known as Delhi Tandoor case.

During his investigation, Maxwell Pereira faced writ petitions against his continuance as the investigator and was also accused of planning to kill Sharma even before the case reached the court.

The Delhi High Court deciding on the case released accused Sharma on Friday.

While the Judge pronounced the verdict, investigator Pereira showed no hatred as the accused walked out of the prison after 22 years.

“He served a sentence of more than 22 years and his release does not dismay me. I feel he has paid the price for what he did,” Pereira said after the judgment was pronounced.

“However, I did not find the utterances of the high court justices palatable. They said that criminals had a right to life. I would react that the victims of such criminals too have a right to life,” he added.

Since it was a profile case Pereira’s team faced immense political pressure during the investigation and trial.

Undeterred with political pressure Pereira’s team collected the DNA samples and got a second autopsy conducted.

“There is so much that can be said about this. Devious minds were employed to subvert the due process of law and delay the investigation,” said Pereira.

“It was ridiculous to see that every time we presented a witness in court, Sharma would faint mid-hearing and complain of chest pain and get hospitalised.”

Sharma managed to flee the city after murdering his wife but then he was caught Pereira’s team on July 10, eight days later.

When TOI approached Constable Abdul Nazir Kunju who has witnessed the severed body parts of the victim being disposed of in restaurant tandoor, he said though he gave his statement the Delhi Police did not hear him out.

He alleges his alertness was not respected by Delhi Police while other retirement benefits were also denied to him. Now staying in Kerala, Kunju said, “I was given Rs 5 as reward for my perseverance.”

He accused the department of denying him an enhanced salary under the Sixth Pay Commission and said that while he was a head constable, lower ranked constables who joined Delhi Police after him were paid more.

“I appealed to my senior officers and headquarters several times, but they always turned me down,” Kunju said, adding that after repeatedly taking the issue to higher authorities he finally took voluntary retirement in 2012 and returned back to Kerala to live with his mother.

on the night of gruesome murder, constable Kunju was posted with the Connaught Place police station and was on patrol duty on Ashoka Road with constable Chanderpal when he received information about a “fire” at the Ashok Yatri Niwas’ Bagiya restaurant.

When the two constables reached the restaurant to investigate the manager told them that old rags were being burnt in the tandoor which is emanating the smell.

Though the constables left the restaurant after inquiring, it was Kunju who went again to cross check to see whether the manager told the truth.

On peeking by climbing the wall behind the restaurant, he was shocked to see what was happening on the lawn.

“I saw the torso and the severed limbs of a human being near the tandoor and there was one person pouring something into it,” said Kunju.

He immediately rushed to inform the police control room and alerted his seniors. When he returned to the lawns he saw burnt body parts, including a leg with fire, doused off now, and nearby blood stained plastic bag held the rest of Naina Suhani’s body.

Though he retired prematurely, Kunju still followed the case. “I attended the court proceedings to ensure the victim got justice. I was also a witness in the case,” he said.