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8 guilty of Manju’s murder
Shahira Naim/Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 23
In one of the speediest trials, all eight accused in the shocking murder of Indian Oil sales manager S. Manjunath were held guilty by the Lakhimpur Khiri district court today. After hearing prosecution and defence arguments on Monday, the court would pronounce the exact quantum of sentence.

The judgment day of the high-profile case of the murder of a young upright officer from a premier management school had attracted a large number of media persons to the district court.

However, District Judge S. M. A. Abidi delivered his 58-page order only after instructing the mediapersons to leave the court premises.

Justice Abdi held the accused guilty under Section 302 and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and some of them under the Arms Act.

He said on March 26, he would announce the exact quantum of sentence to the convicted persons, including the main offender, son of the owner of Mittal Automobiles Petrol Pump Pawan Kumar, alias Monu.

All eight accused were present in the court. Besides Monu, the others are Rakesh Anand, Vivek Sharma, Devesh Agnihotri, Sanjay Awasthi, Shivkesh Giri, Harish Mishra and Rajesh Verma.

The Indian Oil Corporation Sales Manager had lost his life on November 19, 2005 while exposing the petrol adulteration mafia of the region.

As soon as the judgment was delivered, the defense lawyers and relatives of the offenders clashed with mediapersons outside the court premises, accusing them of giving “undue publicity” to the case. The arrival of the police prevented the situation from getting completely out of control.

Twentyseven-year-old S. Manjunath originally from Kolar in Karnataka joined the Indian Oil Corporation soon after passing out from IIM Lucknow in July 2003. While working at Lakhimpur Khiri, he had ordered two petrol stations at Gola Gokarn to be sealed for three months for selling adulterated fuel.

A month after the pump started operating again, Manjunath decided to conduct a surprise raid on November 19, 2005 when the offenders conspired to murder him.

His body, riddled with at least six bullets, was found in the backseat of his own car in Maholi area of neighbouring Sitapur district the very next day. The car was being driven by two employees of the petrol station.

Both of them were arrested and led to the clues, which within days, brought the main accused, pump-owner’s son Monu Mittal along with five others in the police net.

A pan IIM initiative, The Manjunath Shanmugam Trust, was registered in February 2007 with the immediate objective of fighting the case.

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