CBI has arrested a former Inspector of Crime Branch from Pune for allegedly shielding real culprits and manipulating evidence. However, will this lead to action against real masterminds, after five years?
Family members of Satish Shetty, a Right to Information (RTI) activist, who was brutally murdered on 13 February 2010, near his house in Pune, are still waiting for justice five years later. However, a ray of hope has come through, following the arrest of BR Andhalkar, former Police Inspector of Crime Branch at Pune, by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), on 6th April. Allegedly, Andhalkar has conspired and manipulated evidences to shield the real killers of Shetty.
As per the press release issued the agency on 6th April, “The Central Bureau of Investigation has today arrested then Police Inspector of Crime Branch, Pune (Maharashtra) in an on-going investigation of a case related to an alleged murder of Shri Satish Shetty, a Social Worker of Talegaon Dabhade, District Pune (Maharashtra).
“CBI had taken over the investigation of the case on the request of Maharashtra Government, which was earlier registered at Police Station Talegaon Dabhade, Pune vide Cr No.08/2010 dated 13 January 2010 U/s 302 of IPC. It was alleged that Shri Satish Shetty was killed on 13 January 2010 by unknown assailants in Pune. During investigation, it has emerged that the then Police Inspector (Andhalkar) of Local Crime Branch, Pune had allegedly conspired with others and fabricated and manipulated evidences to shield the real conspirators and killers. Further investigation is continuing.”
The Satish Shetty Murder case, the first for an RTI activist in the country, was pulled out from Pune Police, which was dilly-dallying over the investigations. At the complaint and pursuance of his brother Sandeep and the Shetty family and directives from the Bombay High Court, the case was transferred to the CBI.
CBI clinched crucial evidence, filing a 10,000-page report after thorough investigation, which also involved several trips abroad by the investigative agency. However, in a strange and suspicious move, the CBI on 11 August 2014 suddenly filed a closure report in the Satish Shetty murder case. Incidentally, during this period the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had come to power at the centre. The CBI, unarguably under some political pressure, gave a public statement stating that it could not find sufficient evidence to prosecute the accused persons. What was even more strange was the fact that the closure report was filed three days after it sought permission from the Bombay High Court, to reopen a land fraud case that was filed by Shetty at the Lonavala police station and this complaint seemed to have a direct connection with murder.
Moneylife had earlier reported that, the 13 persons were named as accused by slain RTI activist Satish Shetty in a land grab case along the Pune-Mumbai expressway through forging of documents, in the first information report (FIR) lodged by him at the Talegaon police station in October 2009. The names included the high profile owner of Ideal Road Builders (IRB), Virendra Mhaiskar, who is close to several top-notch politicians of Maharashtra, as well as a sub-registrar and others. It has been alleged that the subsequent brutal murder of Shetty on 13 February 2010, was closely linked to his lodging of his FIR of October 2009. In fact, the CBI stuck to this FIR as the motive for Satish Shetty’s murder for a good four years, until as recently as 8 August 2014 and then suddenly changed course in the last three days.
The High Court had suo motu taken cognizance of Satish Shetty murder in 2010 and directed the CBI to probe it, which was otherwise being investigated by the Pune Rural Police.
The closure report of the CBI had however stated that it would open up the case, in case of any incriminating evidence. It had stated, “The analysis of the said call records revealed that between October 2009 and filing of the charge sheet by local police, there were a number of calls between IRB liaison officer Jayant Dangre and Pune rural police inspector Bhausaheb (BR) Andhalkar. The call data analysis of Dangre, IRB lawyer Ajit Kulkarni, Andhalkar and Mhaiskar prima facie revealed a nexus particularly after registration of CR. No 152/ 2009 (the land scam case) by the Lonavala city police station on the complaint of the deceased against Virendra Mhaiskar and 12 others for offences of criminal conspiracy, forgery and cheating till the deceased was murdered.”
Now, once again there is hope that the involvement of influential persons will be finally investigated and justice done to the family and to the whistleblowers who have sacrificed their lives, for transparency and good governance.
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(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet – The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)