ALAPPUZHA (KERALA): Gopinatha Pillai, 78, fighting a protracted legal battle to clear the name of his son — Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Ghulam Sheikh — who was branded a terrorist and shot by Gujarat police in 2004, succumbed to injuries on Friday following a road accident here on Wednesday.
Sheikh was allegedly killed in cold blood along with Ishrat Jahan and two others. The ‘fake encounter’ case became a political hot potato and reportedly saw several cover-up attempts. Gopinatha, who had consistently contested the Gujarat government and police claim that his son was involved in terrorist plots, claimed at one point that his son had been a police informer and had worked for “patriots”. With Gopinatha’s death, Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kauser remains the only petitioner in the case.Police are probing all aspects of the accident. “Full investigation will be conducted to determine whether it was an accident or murder,” Kerala DGP Loknath Behra told TOI. Gopinatha, a native of Nooranad, met with the accident at Vayalar Junction We left home by 4am on Wednesday. A car that was moving in front of us applied brake. As I slowed down the car it was slammed from behind by a lorry. Our car lost control, crossed the median and collided with another lorry that was moving towards Alappuzha,” Madhavan Pillai told TOI on Friday.
However, the Pillais do not suspect any foul play. “It was an accident. We do not suspect anything else in this case,” Gopinatha’s nephew, Anush M N, said. Pattanakad sub-inspector B Shajimon said the lorry driver reported the accident and the vehicle was released on Thursday. “We have identified the lorry which initially collided with the car. We’ve registered a case of unnatural death and have started a probe,” he said.