Pune police rubbishes communal angle to ragpicker's murder

Pune: Days after a 17-year-old ragpicker was allegedly murdered by three persons here after setting him afire, his father and some right-wing activists today claimed he was killed because he was a 'Hindu' and the brutality meted out to him was like an act of IS.

However, police have denied any communal angle behind the murder of Sawan Rathod in Kasba Peth area of the city last week.

Sawan, a pavement dweller, was hospitalised last Wednesday after he sustained severe burns when the accused trio, suspecting his involvement in stealing vehicle batteries, poured petrol on him and set him ablaze on January 13. He died in hospital on January 15.

"When my son was admitted to hospital, he told me that he was set on fire by three suspects after they came to know that he was Hindu," Sawan's father Dharma claimed.

Milind Ekbote, president of 'Samast Hindu Aghadi', alleged that the amount of cruelty exerted by three suspects was "inhuman" and the act resembles the "modus operandi" of Islamic State (IS). He demanded a probe by ATS into the incident.

Ekbote said they will organise a protest at the Police Commissioner's office here on January 27.

Activists of various right-wing bodies said the police had botched up the investigation in the case.

"We had given a video clip to the cops in which the deceased was seen telling that he was set on fire by three suspects, after they came to know that he was 'Hindu'.

"It is as good as the dying declaration and police should investigate the communal angle. They failed to take his dying statement when he was being treated at state-run Sassoon Hospital," said Ramesh Rathod, city unit president of 'Banjara Kranti Dal', the community to which the deceased belonged.

Police had arrested Ibrahim Shaikh, Juber Tamboli and Imran Tamboli in connection with the murder.

When contacted, DCP (Zone I) Tushar Doshi dismissed the claim of the activists and the boy's father as an "afterthought".

"Nothing of this sort (communal) surfaced in our investigation so far," he added.

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