Mumbai: A prime witness in the killing of Chhota Rajan’s aide Ram Narayan Gupta has gone missing. This comes after a local court framed charges against 22 accused including suspended encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma in the case.

Anil Bhinde, a key witness in the alleged fake encounter of the aide went missing on Sunday morning. “His wife Aruna lodged a complaint of a missing person in our police station," said Sanjay Surve, Inspector at Vashi Police Station.

A team of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case has rushed to Vashi.

“Aruna claimed Anil had left home at 11.30 am in his car saying he was going to meet his businessman friend but did not return home and his mobile was also switched off,” police said.

Ram Narayan Gupta alias Lakkhan Bhaiya was allegedly killed in a fake encounter by the police on November 11, 2006 in suburban Versova on suspicion that he was a member of the Rajan gang, police said.

His brother, advocate Ram Prasad, on November 15, 2006 had moved a petition in the Bombay High Court alleging that Gupta was murdered by police in a fake encounter.

"Aruna also told me that Anil had received calls from the underworld men threatening to kill him," Ram Prasad said.
Last week, a local court framed charges against the 22 accused in the Sessions Court.

The high court, in February 2008, had ordered a magisterial inquiry into the encounter. In August 2009, the Magistrate, in his report, concluded that Gupta was killed in cold blood. Later, the High Court formed an SIT to probe the case.

The SIT last year arrested Inspector Sharma and Senior Inspector Pradeep Suryawanshi, among others. While one accused was granted bail and another undergoing treatment in Vashi's hospital, the rest are lodged in Mumbai Arthur Road jail and in Thane Central Jail.