Nine months ago, a 26-year-old boy was run over by a train. His death would be just another statistic, had he not left behind a damning suicide note, implicating the Charkop police for watering down a complaint he had made against some politically influential goons who had thrashed him in March.
After media pressure, police arrested 15 persons for abetting the suicide. On Tuesday, a 37-year-old woman — one of the accused, petitioned the Bombay High Court, alleging she was falsely implicated by the CID in the case, and illegally detained for three days.
The division bench of Justices A S Oka and S S Shinde stayed filing of the chargesheet till the next hearing on January 24, and has ordered the prosecution to file a detailed affidavit explaining the alleged illegal detention.
On March 8, Nikesh Bhandari was assaulted by eight men, identified in his suicide note as Sachin Ghag, Santosh Gawli, Sumedh Tate, Sunil Tate, Ravi Gurav, Mahesh Lad, Jagdish Lad and Ashish Gawli. Ghag had been an NCP contestant in the 2012 municipal elections and was pitted against a Shiv Sena candidate. According to the petitioner, Neetu Satyawan Parab Padhi, she had helped campaign for Ghag. The police registered a case against seven additional people who were not named in the note, including Neetu.
When Nikesh was lodged in hospital, he was shifted out of ICCU to the general ward, despite his injuries. Later that day, he was discharged. He was then re-admitted after the family intervened. PI Pravin Patil then arrived to record his statement, but did not mention that Nikesh had vomited blood, or the accused were drunk.
When Nikesh returned home he found that the accused were out on bail and was greatly disturbed. He wrote a letter to the senior PI, saying his statement had not been properly recorded. On April 11, Patil called Nikesh’s brother Chaitanya and asked him to come to the police station. When he said he had work, Patil allegedly threatened him. Shortly after being told of Patil’s call, Nikesh slipped out of the house and was found dead on the tracks.
According to Neetu’s petition, she was framed by the police owing to a political rivalry. She claims to have been falsely implicated by three politicians. On April 18, the three leaders led a mob of locals and Nikesh’s relatives and allegedly assaulted her. She was handed over to the Charkop police inspector Uttam Sawant. Police detained her overnight, ostensibly for her own safety from the mob. She spent the next three days being shuttled between lockups in Charkop, Vasai, Borivli and Bandra. Finally, the CID took custody of Neetu and produced her in court on April 21.
Neetu said, “I was forced to stand all day. The ground in the lock-up was too filthy to sit on. I am a well-educated woman and I had nothing to do with this. I want justice.” She was represented by advocates Harshad Badbade and Sureshchandra Chataule.