Be it his status message on WhatsApp that reads ‘Awaiting justice for Chaitanya’ or his Facebook page which gives details of court hearings, Tarun Balpande’s life now revolves around his slain 13-year-old son Chaitanya, who was allegedly murdered by his mother and her alleged lover in August this year.
Chaitanya was allegedly beaten to death by the duo with a cricket bat.
The incident left Tarun so restless and devastated that he decided to quit his job the same month, not just to gather himself but also to dedicate more time to fighting the case. Almost every fortnight, he travels to Pune from Nagpur either for a court hearing or to meet his lawyer to discuss case proceedings.
“I will not be at peace till I see both of them (boy’s mother Rakhee Balpande and her alleged lover Sumit More) hanged,” says Tarun, who was in Pune on Wednesday.
He says that since the viscera report, which came out two days ago, rules out poisoning as a cause of Chaitanya’s death, he stands a stronger chance of winning the case. Besides, he is also planning to file a petition with the principal judge requesting that the case be tried in the fast-track court.
Chaitanya’s mother Rakhee and More were arrested on August 6 and are currently in jail. Both had applied for bail over 10 days ago. On December 18, Tarun Balpande submitted an application in the court opposing the bail application, arguing that the duo may harm him or other witnesses in the case if released on bail. While the last hearing took place at the district court on December 18, the next hearing is scheduled for December 28.
Tarun claims he underwent psychiatric treatment for nearly a month in Nagpur after the incident to cope with the devastating loss. Citing details of the post-mortem report that revealed Chaitanya had 40 injuries when he was brought to the hospital on August 5 evening, he says, “From neck to stomach and legs to head, there was not a single body part which wasn’t injured. My son was beaten up so brutally.”
Tarun, who stays in a joint family, says his brothers are helping him financially at the moment. He says even his nine-year-old niece and nephew, who grew up with Chaitanya, were shocked by the incident and needed counselling in their schools. “Though none from our family shared the tragic news with them, they got to know from relatives. Thankfully, they are fine now,” says Tarun, who was earlier working with a private pharmaceutical company.
Tarun and Rakhee got married in 2000 after nine years of a steady relationship. However, a few years after the marriage, things soured between them. Three years ago, Rakhee filed for divorce and shifted to Pune from Nagpur. Tarun claims she initially demanded Rs 25 lakh as alimony, but agreed for an out-of-court settlement with Rs 5 lakh a year ago. “However, I declined and insisted on opting for the legal procedure for divorce,” says Tarun.
The court granted Chaitanya’s custody to Rakhee and Tarun was given permission to meet his son on last Sunday of every month. “But the meetings never materialised because Rakhee invariably made me cancel my visit citing some or the other excuse,” he says.
An avid bird watcher, Tarun is also part of a bird watchers’ group in Nagpur and says it’s a hobby that his son had picked up from him. “He would participate in bird watching events very enthusiastically. Consecutively for two years, 2012 and 2013, he won the ‘Youngest Participant’ award at the bird watching event organised in Nagpur,” the father remembers.