Four years after Pune RTI activist Satish Shetty was hacked to death, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) — which has been struggling to crack the case — has indicated that it is on the verge of unravelling the mystery behind the murder that had rocked the nation. “Hold on for four-five days…You will come to know,” said CBI joint director Keshav Kumar when asked whether the CBI has failed to trace the culprits.
Shetty (38) was murdered on January 13, 2010, when he had stepped out of his house in Talegaon area for a morning walk. He was stabbed on his head, hands, temple and neck by assailants who quickly disappeared from the scene and have remained untraceable since.
The case was first with Pune rural police. It was transferred to CBI after the slain activist’s brother, Sandeep Shetty, moved the Bombay High Court.
For months now, there has been no word on any major breakthrough achieved by the CBI in the matter. Puneites, especially RTI activists who constantly remain under threat, have been wondering whether the CBI will ever crack the case or shut it as it did in two cases — one involving alleged bribe and another pertaining to an alleged land grab.
But CBI officials are putting up a brave front. “The matter is under investigation,” said Kumar.
While stating that the matter is being investigated thoroughly, the CBI is not revealing anything. “We will not reveal anything at this stage, but will reiterate that the investigation in the case is going on,” said Kumar. After persistent questioning, he indicated that they will make an announcement in a few days. Though he did not reveal whether it will be about cracking the case, CBI sources said, “It will certainly be a significant revelation in the matter.”
Pune CBI Deputy Inspector General Vidya Kulkarni also refused to reveal anything on whether the CBI is about to crack the case or is nowhere near cracking it. She said the information will be given by the agency’s media cell.
The CBI has been re-investigating an alleged land scam complaint — made by Shetty’s in October 2009 — from November last year. The re-investigation started following a Bombay High Court ruling in response to a CBI application seeking to re-open Shetty’s complaint. The CBI had argued before the court that the complaint made by Shetty might have led to his murder.
In October 2009, Shetty had alleged that an infrastructure company had connived with government officials to purchase land in villages along the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. He had alleged massive irregularities in the deal. However, the Lonavla police had later filed a closure report in the matter, saying there was no truth in the allegations. CBI sources said the re-investigation has helped the investigating agency get vital clues in the matter.
Debunking the CBI investigation, RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar said in the last five years, 26 RTI activists have been murdered in the country. “Of these 26, 13 have been murdered in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Seven have been murdered in Maharashtra and six in Gujarat. Only in one case, I think arrests have been made, but not a single person has been convicted. If the all-powerful weapon in the hands of the common man is going to claim lives, the people will lose faith in the system,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kumbhar inaugurated an RTI Katta at Jijamata Chowk Talegaon on Monday on the fourth death anniversary of Shetty. “It is a platform for RTI activists to discuss and share RTI developments. It will not be run by any organisation and will be an informal gathering of RTI activists,” he said. A similar RTI platform was inaugurated on January 5 at Chitranjan Vatika garden in Model Colony.