State home minister R R Patil on Tuesday transferred the murder case of a Bhandup RTI activist to the Mumbai Crime Branch. The case will now be handed to the Branch’s assistant commissioner of police Prafful Bhosale.
Vasant Patil (53), a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker, had exposed illegal construction activities undertaken by high-profile people in Tembipada area in Bhandup (W), through queries filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. He had also complained to the BMC, demanding action against offenders.
MiD DAY had reported yesterday that cops arrested Congress worker Baban Khopade for the murder. He is one of those who had been exposed by Patil, and his unauthorised construction was demolished by the civic authority. There were frequent tussles between the two over the matter.
“On Sunday night, they had a fight again and Patil spat in Khopade’s face. To avenge the insult, he allegedly stabbed Patil 28 times in his house when his wife Maya was not present,” said Bhandup police.
But Patil’s kin and local activists allege that Khopade is a red herring to distract cops. They allege that a former Shiv Sena corporator, Suresh Shinde, who was jailed after Patil exposed a land grab-related forgery committed by him in Tembipada, is the real culprit.
Patil’s wife Maya told MiD DAY on Monday, “My husband used to tell me that he could get killed. Shinde was troubling him a lot. I suspect Shinde killed him, but Khopade has purposely surrendered to the police to divert the probe. Khopade and Shinde have joined hands as the latter’s case was going to court,” said Maya.
Meanwhile, Khopade was produced in Mulund court by investigation officer Shrirang Nadgouda, who is senior inspector at Bhandup police station. When Nadgouda said he wanted Khopade’s custody for seven days, the court questioned him about the small duration sought, since in serious offences like murder, the police usually get 14 days’ custody. Finally the court granted custody for eight days.