25-Year-Old 'Eyewitness' To Over 250 Crimes In Chhattisgarh

For the legal fraternity, he is a stock or pocket witness, one who is tutored to say before a court what police want him to. He says it is not a choice but a compulsion now and claims he is a witness in cases ranging from murder to Maoist violence.

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The 25-year-old says even the judges have warned him

Jagdalpur:  All of 25, this former video journalist from Chhattisgarh is not an ordinary man. He claims he is a witness in more than 250 criminal cases, but for him this is not a feat.

For the legal fraternity, he is a stock or pocket witness, one who is tutored to say before a court what police want him to. He says it is not a choice but a compulsion now and claims he is a witness in cases ranging from murder to Maoist violence.

The police, while refuting his claims, said they have made him a witness in not more than 66 cases, that too related with seizure of property.

It all started in 2013.

"I was with the media and used to visit the police station initially, they told me to be a witness in one or two cases. I am unemployed, my family members are unwell and I am facing problems because of the cases," he said.

A resident of Jagdalpur town in Chhattisgarh's Bastar district, the man says he is getting threats, sometimes over the phone, sometimes outside the court complex by unknown people. "They say they will teach me a lesson after they come out of jail. I am stuck," he says.

The 25-year-old says even the judges have warned him. "They ask me every time why are you the witness? We will put you in jail." 

Sankalp Dubey, a lawyer from Jagdalpur court, said, "Pocket witness is not a legal terminology and they are not genuine witnesses. They are not aware about the facts of a case, police plant them as per their convenience."

The man's family says he did it to get close to police officers, hoping they would assist him in landing some good job, but now the police say they will see what can be done. 

"It is not a compulsion under CrPC that the witness cannot appear in too many cases. We will see what can be done. He is working for the police and I appreciate that but he is witness in cases pertaining to narcotics and liquor. In only one case related to Maoists we made him witness. I have instructed the local police station to provide him security," said Jagdalpur's Superintendent of Police Arif Sheikh.

Sources in Jadgdalpur police confirmed that he is a "pocket witness". They also said that they have given him financial assistance in the past and will see that he gets some job to support his family.

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