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I am not a machine, but human: Munde

April 26, 2007 00:17 IST

Brother-in-law of the slain Bharatiya Janata Party leader Pramod Mahajan, Gopinath Munde, on Wednesday defended himself for not recording his statement on the latter's murder.

He said it was not possible to do so while he was trying to collect blood for the late politician's emergency surgery. Answering the defence counsel's queries at a court in Mumbai, Munde -- who had taken Mahajan to hospital on April 22, 2006 after he was shot by his younger brother Pravin -- said he was busy helping doctors collect almost 19 bottles of blood on the day of the surgery.

He was replying to counsel Harshad Ponda's queries on whether he had tried to record his statement with police on the incident when Mahajan was being operated on -- a time when he (Munde) could in no way help in the process.

Prosecution lawyer Ujjwal Nikam objected to the question, saying it was irrelevant and as per Section 152 of the Indian Evidence Act was intended to insult the witness, while Ponda defended it by saying he wanted to test the mind and the conduct of the witness.

However, Munde replied, "I am not a machine. I am a human being." Nikam commented that it was a very good answer, to which Ponda accused him of tutoring witnesses what answers should be given in court.

Munde identified Pravin in the court and denied that all his relatives had ganged up against Pravin. He said they had not decided to give a statement to police against the accused, as had been alleged by Ponda.

Munde replied in the negative when Ponda asked if the motive for the murder -- a demand for money -- was decided on by the relatives after the beginning of the trial.

Pradya, Munde's wife and Pramod and Pravin's sister, then told the court about the sequence of incidents on April 22.

She said Mahajan's wife Rekha had rung her doorbell in the morning. She was crying loudly and told Pradnya that the scoundrel had shot Pramod.

Pradnya and Rekha then rushed up to Mahajan and wiped sweat from his forehead.

She asked Rekha to get a dupatta to tie around his wounds to stem the bleeding. While tying the dupatta, Pradya had asked Rekha what had happened, to which Rekha told her that Pravin had shot Mahajan, Pradnya said.

Mahajan had then asked them to hurry him to hospital as he was in tremendous pain. During questioning, Pradnya sternly reminded the prosecution and defence teams that she felt equally for both her brothers and she would be fair and just in answering every question.

She also identified the vest worn by Mahajan at the time of the incident and the dupatta that was tied around his injuries. Pradnya said she was not shown these clothes when her statement was being recorded and that she was seeing them in the court today for the first time after the day of the incident.

Ponda began cross-examining Pradnya by asking her whether she had given more than one statement to police, to which she replied that only one was made. Her cross-examination will continue tomorrow before Additional Sessions Judge Shrihari Davare.
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