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Charudatta Deshpande suicide: Note throws fresh light on the case

Almost a year after the chief of Tata Steel corporate communications committed suicide, cops have not been able to nab the accused

A handwritten letter by Charudatta Deshpande (57), former Corporate Affairs and Communications chief at Tata Steel, who committed suicide by hanging himself in his Vasai home on June 28 last year, has thrown light on why Deshpande may have taken the extreme step. His death had triggered allegations that he may have been harassed by some of his colleagues at Jamshedpur.

Also read: Charu said he was receiving threats, phone was being tapped: Friend

Charudatta Deshpande’s note dated February 5, 2013, where he outlines "circumstantial evidence"
Charudatta Deshpande’s note dated February 5, 2013, where he outlines "circumstantial evidence"

Charu’s letter (a copy of which is with mid-day) states that there were threats from within his department, and it raises serious questions on the functioning of certain employees. Now, Charu’s son Gaurav (24) and his brother-in-law Mahesh Bhatkal (52) have met State Home Minister R R Patil and expressed their dissatisfaction with the manner in which the local Vasai police have been probing the case for the last one year.

Also read: What drove Charu Deshpande, ex Tata Steel employee, to kill himself

His note dated May 1, 2013 where he mentions "reason for leaving"
His note dated May 1, 2013 where he mentions "reason for leaving"

They also wrote a letter to Patil on May 6, 2014, stating that they wanted the case under investigation from the Thane police to be transferred to the Mumbai Crime Branch or State CID. They have also requested Patil’s intervention for justice in the case.

“It has been almost a year since my father passed away. The police investigation surrounding his untimely death remains incomplete. And sadly, the charges of abetment to suicide levelled against a few Tata Steel officials has not been vigorously pursued,” the letter reads.

“The police inaction is not just surprising, but also worrying. A number of his friends and colleagues came forward to record their depositions that added weight to the charges of abetment of suicide. But the police investigation has not proceeded beyond mere tokenism. No chargesheet has been filed till date. No attempt has been made to seek custodial interrogation of the accused Prabhat Sharma,” it states.

Mahesh Bhatkal said, “The family members are upset with the fact that even after a year, the police have not made any substantial headway to nail the culprits. We have requested the state home minister to intervene and are hopeful that justice would be done to us.”

Complainant upset
Indrajeet Gupta, former Forbes editor, who is also the main complainant in the FIR against Prabhat Sharma, said, “The police have completely ignored the handwritten notes from Charu’s diary that clearly points out the trying circumstances in which he was working in Jamshedpur and the harassment that he was facing from his colleagues, primarily the key accused Prabhat Sharma, and it has detailed notes on his observation of how Prabhat Sharma was fomenting trouble in the department and being a complete nuisance.”

Press club chief says
Gurbir Singh, president, Press Club Mumbai, echoed similar views and said, “We have raised our concerns with R R Patil on three different occasions, March 15, May 3 and May 5 this year, wherein we categorically expressed our dissatisfaction with the manner the police were probing the case.”

Police say
DSP Prashant Deshpande, who is probing the case, said, “The investigation is in process and I am not the authority to decide on transfer of case to any agency. I am just an investigating officer.” Asked about the progress made in the case so far, he said, “I cannot divulge any information pertaining to ongoing probe.” Attempts made to contact his superior, Rajesh Pradhan, superintendent of police, Thane (rural) did not yield any result.

Diary notes
Charu had left diary notes in which he made startling revelations. The investigating team has seized the diary as well as the hard disk data from his personal and official computers in Jamshedpur. Charu even jotted two pages of adverse remarks on Prabhat Sharma, which run into 13 points - they cite flaws in Sharma’s working and mention that if he was transferred, he’d destroy the department before leaving.

Mumbai Press Club demands probe against Tata Steel officials

The Press Club Mumbai has demanded the investigation against Tata Steel officials in the case for abetment of suicide of former journalist and PR executive Charudatta Deshpande be transferred out from the Thane Rural Police to the Mumbai Crime Branch or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

A Press Club delegation that included club president Gurbir Singh and senior journalists Kumar Ketkar and Indrajit Gupta, along with Charu’s family members, met Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil recently to press for their demands.

The Home Minister has agreed with the demand for transferring the investigation, but requested 10 days time as Thane Rural S.P. Rakesh Pradhan and Investigation Officer Prashant Deshpande were still to retrieve the contents of Charu Deshpande’s computer’s hard disc.

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