Corporator recommended security guard without a background check

Investigations by the PMC have revealed that Dhananjay Rokde, the security guard at civic-managed Wadgaon Sheri crematorium who was arrested for raping a 19-year-old girl on April 6, was hired on the basis of a letter of recommendation from Sena corporator Sachin Bhagat

It has emerged that the security guard who raped a 19-year-old girl in Wadgaon Sheri crematorium on April 6 had been appointed for the job on the basis of three-time Shiv Sena corporator Sachin Bhagat’s letter of recommendation. It has also emerged that Bhagat was aware that the alleged rapist had a criminal background, when he wrote the letter.

On record: Sachin Bhagat admits he gave the letter (below), even though he knew the man had been ‘involved in some cases of manhandling in the past’

The revelation about Bhagat’s involvement in the appointment was made in course of investigations carried out by the PMC and confirmed by a clarification submitted by the contractor who had appointed the rape accused Dhanajay Namdeo Rokde (29) as security guard of the crematorium in April 2012, on the basis of Bhagat’s recommendation (mid-day has a copy of the document).

Shiv Sena Corporator Sachin Bhagat’s residence and office in Wadgaon Sheri. Pic/Mohan Patil

The clarification submitted by Spider Security Services, which had appointed accused Rokde in 2012 at Bhaktisagar Crematorium at Wadgaon Sheri, states: ‘On submission of a recommendation letter by PMC member Sachin Bhagat, dated April 29, 2012, we appointed Dhanajay Rokde at Bhaktisagar Crematorium, who was serving at the same place for the past five years with other security agencies.”

When mid-day contacted Bhagat, he admitted that he had recommended Rokde, as he belongs to his area. “I had given a recommendation letter to Rokde some eight years back. At that time, I had not imagined that he would be involved in such a heinous crime,” Bhagat said.

Asked if he was aware about Rokde’s criminal record, Bhagat said, “I know that he was involved in some cases of manhandling in the past, in connection with village politics.” He quickly changed track, saying, “I did not know Rokde personally at the time I handed over the letter to him. I had recommended him for the job of a security guard on the advice of one of my party workers.”

While Bhagat claimed that he had given the recommendation letter to the accused eight years ago, the date on the same letter, a copy of which is with mid-day, is April 29, 2012.

“It’s not that I had recommended only Rokde. On my recommendation, at least six people in my ward got jobs and they are doing quite well in various departments of PMC. In this case also, I visited the survivor’s family and demanded strong action against the accused,” he added.

Renowned feminist Kiran Moghe said, “There is deep nexus between politicians and criminals. Hence, despite committing grave crimes, they get bail, do not get externed and become confident that the law cannot punish them.”

After news of the rape made headlines, Shiv Sena senior leader Neelam Gorhe had written to Police Commissioner Satish Mathur, asking him to deploy roaming squads in the city to ensure the safety of women in crime-prone areas. However, she refused to comment on her party corporator Bhagat’s role in the appointment of the accused at the crematorium. “The accused in the case should get maximum punishment,” she said.

Devendra Chavan, assistant police inspector of Yerawada police station, said, “It is the responsibility of the concerned security agency to ensure police verification of every guard, after making their appointment. In this case, no such police verification was done.”

Rokde'™s crime record

A total of eight cases were registered against Dhanajay Rokde between 2007 and 2012, before he was accused of raping the teenager in the crematorium earlier this month. The charges were filed under IPC sections 324 and 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 323 (minor scuffle).

The case
On April 6, a 19-year-old BCS student was raped in the Wadgaon Sheri Crematorium when she went there to honour the memory of her mother, who had died eight months ago and was cremated there. Rokde has been charged with sections 376 (rape), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.

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