If it wasn’t Ghaziabad, people might have thought "shooting" was going on. A scene out of a Bollywood gangster movie was played out in the district court on Thursday, when a Western UP gang war spilled into the premises. The target was a Meerut mafisoso called Udham Singh who ran from one courtroom to another to escape bullets. He was seriously injured, as were four other people — there were pools of blood in courtrooms and verandahs.
Udham Singh is an undertrial charged with several murders. His adversaries came to court dressed as a trio of lawyers — their leader, Yogesh Bhadoria, made the cinematic additions of a cap and a false moustache to his attire. The three men walked right through the long out-of-order metal detectors of the court with a range of weapons, and opened fire once Udham Singh was brought to the first floor courtroom in the main building.
The firing resulted in collateral damage — three other litigants were injured as the gunmen chased their mark from one court to another. A security man opened fire and injured one of the assailants; another was apprehended. But Bhadora, of the moustache and cap, jumped off the first floor on to a car and fled.
In Ghaziabad, no one was surprised. As you walk past lawyers’ chambers in the lanes of the court premises, you often find gunmen on guard (or having tea). Many of them are employed by lawyers, others accompany clients. Whatever goes on in this court has an element of risk.
The sweepers will wipe Thursday’s blood come Friday morning. That is how it works in Western UP.
But as lawyers and litigants ran for their lives from the court, judge Shyam Lal’s fast track court in the adjacent building soldiered along — the only one to keep functioning through the bizarre events of the day. This is an exceptional event in an environment where strikes and ‘condolence’ days are observed as a result of happenings many times removed from the court.
Witnesses in the Aarushi Hemraj murder trial deposed as usual. The prosecution’s focus at this time is on the activity of the accused Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwars' internet connection through the night of the murders. It is the CBI’s suggestion that the Talwars were online for several spells during the night their daughter Aarushi and servant Hemraj were killed.
Bhupender Singh, a witness for the prosecution, testified that the long gaps in the activity shown in the logs the service provider had kept suggested that the users had physically switched the modem on and off through the night. Gaps under five seconds are merely to indicate the modem trying to reconnect.
Singh is employed by CERT-In, (Computer Emergency Response Team, India) a government agency that provides research and analysis on IT matters. He referred to the agency’s director, Anil Sagar’s response to the questions about the activity put to CERT by the CBI.
Sagar’s response, however, was hardly as categorical. The logs provided by the CBI were incomplete to begin with — they covered less than 12 hours — and Sagar has said that no concrete conclusions can be drawn from the records.
Independent analysts who will likely be brought in by the defence have said that there are several dozen explanations, other than physical switching on and off of the modem, that could have caused the internet activity.
The court will hear the cross examinations of witnesses who have testified on the Talwars’ internet connection on 16 October. When, hopefully, there won’t be another shootout.
This is Ghaziabad, however, so nothing can be ruled out. Thousands of people of various persuasions come to the court. Over the last 10 years or so there have been at least five potentially fatal attacks on the premises. Rajesh Talwar was the victim of one in 2011, when a deranged youth attacked him with a meat cleaver.
Officials are now working on installing cameras. Perhaps so that shootings can be shot.More on Aarushi trial: Why was Talwars' net connection acting funny on night of murders?The contentious letter both sides are fighting overDeath of a not so 'key' witness steals limelightAarushi Trial: How the court worksTrial games set to intensify as Nupur gets bailPeculiar development stumps CBI CBI's loss is Talwars' gainFriends of the Talwars give testimonyKiller's palm print lost due to a cop's negligence?The mystery of the bloodstained, locked terrace door
Currently a visiting fellow at INSEAD, France, Avirook Sen has been a journalist and writer for over 20 years. A former resident editor of Hindustan Times (Mumbai) and editor of Mid-Day, he has written with passion and insight on subjects as varied as sport and terrorism for top publications across the world. His first book, Looking for America, was published in 2010 to enthusiastic reviews. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org