Pune, Jun 13 (PTI) Senior lawyer Ujjwal Nikam has withdrawn as special public prosecutor in the 2014 Mohsin Sheikh murder case in which members of the Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) are accused. Also Read - MHT CET Counselling Schedule 2020 Released for BFA admissions at mahacet.org

The state government last month cancelled the appointment of Nikam as prosecutor in the case based on his request, according to sources familiar with the development that has come to light only now. Also Read - Mahar-wada, Dhor-vasti, Mali-galli: Maharashtra Plans to Rename Caste-based Names of Areas

A notification by Maharashtra’s Law and Judiciary Department said it had withdrawn its order appointing Nikam as special public prosecutor, on his request, in the case pending before a Pune court. Also Read - Lucknow Municipal Corporation Bonds Listed on BSE, CM Adityanath Calls it 'A Historic Moment'

Sheikh, 28, a software engineer, was attacked and killed on June 2, 2014 allegedly by HRS members in Hadapsar area.

Nikam, who was the prosecutor in 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case, refused to comment.

He had also handled the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case and last year examined Pakistani-American LeT operative David Headley in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case.

The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) expressed shock over Nikam’s move.

“Advocate Nikam has never done this before in any case, so what happened in this case that he sought to withdraw his appointment?” said AIMIM local leader Anjum Inamdar.

He asked Nikam to clarify what prompted him to withdraw from the case.

Sheikh’s father Sadique Shaikh requested Nikam to reconsider his decision.

“In our opinion, Nikam is the most capable public prosecutor of India. We were very much sure that we will get justice by his representation,” he said.

Sadique said they had personally requested then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for Nikam’s appointment. “Nikam’s acceptance to their request was the first sign of justice,” he said.

“There could be various reasons for the delay in trial but we do not blame Nikam for that. We request him to reconsider.” he said.

Around 20 people, including HRS chief Dhananjay Desai, were arrested in connection with the case.

Desai had been charged under IPC Section 120B, which pertains to criminal conspiracy.

The Bombay High Court granted bail to three accused– Vijay Gambhire, Ganesh Yadav and Ajay Lalge — on January 17 while observing that the trio seemed provoked in the name of religion.

Police suspected that the incident was a fallout of violent protests in Pune over derogatory pictures of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji and the late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on a social networking site.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.