Was mentally unstable man made a scapegoat in fake currency case?

To avoid being arrested in the case, the leader allegedly colluded with the Thane police and made the innocent man take the rap; the neta claims he had been assured that the man, who has been languishing in Thane jail for nearly a month, would be freed in an hour

A Shiv Sena leader, keen on ensuring that his name was kept out of a fake currency case, and corrupt police officials, equally keen on making the case go away, have ensured that an innocent, mentally challenged man has been languishing behind bars for nearly a month.

The Shree Nagar police now claim they want to free Dharmendra Jha citing lack of evidence against him
The Shree Nagar police now claim they want to free Dharmendra Jha citing lack of evidence against him

On March 15, the State Bank of India’s Wagle Estate Branch in Thane received a deposit of Rs 3.39 lakh, out of which Rs 16,000 in 500-rupee notes was detected to be fake. Following procedure, the SBI lodged a complaint with the Shree Nagar police in Thane, which began investigating the matter.

The probe revealed that the cash had been deposited by one Sanjay Sharma, who had sold his flat to a friend of Rajesh Sonkar, an incense stick dealer and leader of the Shiv Sena’s Mathadi Kamgar Sena. The money deposited by Sharma had been loaned to the flat buyer by Sonkar, and the Sena leader’s name came up in the case

“While S P Burve, a police sub-inspector who was investigating the case, took money from Sonkar and delayed arrests in the case initially, he had taken a transfer to Palghar police station in August and wanted to wrap up the case before going.

He told Sonkar that if he wanted to avoid being arrested, he should produce someone who would confess that the fake currency was his,” said Ajay Jha, brother of Bhandup resident Dharmendra Shivkant Jha, who was wrongly arrested in the case.

“Sonkar approached a person called Jitendra and told him about the case. Jitendra then convinced my brother Dharmendra, who is naive and mentally challenged, to go with him to the Shree Nagar police station and surrender to the cops. Sonkar had told my brother that he would be let off in an hour by the police,” added Ajay.

Dharmendra was, however, arrested and sent to Thane jail, where he has been languishing for nearly a month. “My innocent brother is still in jail and I have not been able to get him freed. I met Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and order, Thane) V V Laxminarayan, who has promised that he will take appropriate steps,” said Jha’s brother Ajay.

Leader speak
When mid-day contacted Sonkar, he admitted to making Dharmendra the scapegoat, but said he had done so because he was under pressure from the police, and because they had assured him that Dharmendra would be freed within an hour.

“I am feeling guilty for what happened. I was told that Dharmendra would be freed in an hour’s time but he is still in jail. I have been with the family since day one, and I don’t want to be blamed for this,” said Sonkar.

The Sena leader added that the fake currency must have come to him as part of his incense stick business and he did not want to name his customers initially as no one would have wanted to deal with him after that.

He told mid-day, however, that he is now ready to face the consequences of his actions and give the names of the shopkeepers who must have given him the fake currency.

Police lapses
When Ajay went to the Shree Nagar police after Dharmendra’s arrest, officials told him that his brother had been arrested because he worked for Sonkar.

But when Ajay produced salary slips which proved that Dharmendra was employed by another private firm, they did not have any answers. Ajay claims only Jt CP Laxminarayan, who has ordered a re-inquiry in the case, gave him some hope. “I am ready.

Please carry out lie detector tests on everyone and Dharmendra will be proved innocent. He has been lying in jail since August and my only hope is Jt CP Laxminarayan, who has ordered an inquiry into the matter, and I hope he will ensure I get justice.

Sonkar initially said my brother was working for him, and after I showed the payslips, he began claiming Dharmendra worked for him part time.” “I have attended to the complaint and have asked for an inquiry and for justice to be done to the brothers,” said Laxminarayan.

When mid-day spoke to the Shree Nagar police yesterday, they claimed they want to free Dharmendra. “We want to free Dharmendra by stating we have no evidence against him as per Section 169 of the CrPc,” said Police Sub-Inspector Sanjay Kohli, who is currently handling the case.

“We arrest accused when there is evidence and leave them if investigations reveal that they are innocent. We are inquiring into Dharmendra’s case,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Thane region) Vilasrao Chandanshive.

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