Yet another police officer has been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the murder of Pune-based RTI activist Satish Shetty who was stabbed to death by unidentified assailants in 2010.
After arresting retired Inspector Bhausaheb Andhalkar - who was the investigating officer in the case originally, last week, the CBI has now arrested former Assistant Police Inspector (API) Namdev Kauthale.
CBI claims that Kauthale conspired with the perpetrators of the crime and also falsified evidence and faked eye-witnesses accounts in order to shield the real conspirators and killers.
Kauthale who is now a retired officer was posted as API attached to Pune rural police’s local crime branch during hte probe into the murder of the 39-year-old RTI activist-cum-social worker who was a resident of Talegaon Dhabhade.
Shetty, an RTI activist from Talegaon Dabhade, was standing at a newspaper stall after his morning walk on January 13, 2010, when unknown assailants stabbed him on his head, hands and neck.
Shetty was the Pune district coordinator of the Bhrastachar Virodhi Dakshata Samiti, an organisation fighting corruption.
Shetty had exposed an alleged land scam along the Pune-Mumbai highway, one of several cases of corruption he had exposed through RTI applications.
He had arrested a lawyer Vijay Dhabhade and four others claiming they had killed Shetty due to old enmity.
Kauthale has been been arrested under the relevant sections of Indian Penal Code comprising Criminal Conspiracy (120B) read with section murder (302), causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender (201), false charge of offence made with intent to injure (211), Taking gift, etc., to screen an offender from punishment (213), public servant disobeying direction of law with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture (217) and Public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment (218).
Kauthale was picked up by CBI from his hometown late on Sunday evening and produced before special judge S B Kachare on Monday.
CBI Special Public Prosecutor Atul Kumar argued, “During investigation it has been revealed that former API Kauthale was subordinate of investigative officer Andalkar, who was arrested last week. Their custodial investigation is needed. During CBI investigation it has been revealed that Kauthale was involved in the initial investigation of the case and he conspired with the perpetrators of crime and in furtherance of that he created false evidences and misuse his power being a police officer. He also created fake eye-witnesses implicating five other accuseds to shield the real conspirators and killers.”
Lawyers Suhas Kolhe, Pankaj Mahajan and Atul Patil argued, “CBI is fabricating the case and implicating Kauthale falsely.
CBI sources said, "The officers who initially investigated the case took huge bribes and tampered evidence. Before catching the culprits we need to gather evidence and these two arrested persons are the best sources who can reveal information."
After hearing both the argument Judge Kachare remanded Kauthale to police custody till April 16.
RTI activist Satish Shetty had filed a complaint in October 2009, alleging that officials from the company, IRB, were illegally grabbing government and private land in Maval taluka. Following the complaint, Shetty allegedly received threats from a company official. His appeal for police protection was denied, after which Shetty was stabbed to death on January 13, 2010.