The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday filed a closure report in the murder of RTI activist Satish Shetty after four years of investigation, saying they could not file any prosecutable evidence against anyone. CBI maintained that if new evidence is found, the case could be reopened.
The closure report was filed three days after CBI sought permission from the Bombay High Court to reopen an alleged land fraud case filed by Shetty, suspected to have been linked to his murder.
The High Court had referred the case to CBI.
A resident of Kala Niwas, Panchvati Colony, Talegaon Dabhade, Satish Shetty was stabbed on January 13, 2010 at Talegaon Dabhade after his morning walk. Satish was Pune district co-ordinator of an organisation – the Bhrastachar Virodhi Dakshata Samiti and was known for anti-corruption activities.
A senior CBI officer said, “The CBI investigated the case for four years and could not find sufficient or prosecutable evidence against anyone. Subsequent to this, closure report in the case was filed today.”
Months before the murder, Shetty filed an FIR with Pune rural police alleging cheating and forgery in a case of land acquisition along the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. “On the request of CBI, the High Court today referred the case of land dispute to the CBI. If we find new evidences in the case, we will reopen the murder case,” the officer said.
Satish’s brother Sandip, fighting the legal battle in the murder case, told The Indian Express that he was shocked to learn about the closure report. “This clearly has been done under political pressure. The CBI told the court on August 8 that the FIR about land fraud registered by my brother could be linked to his murder. And now, they file closure report saying they could not find any concrete evidence. This means they do not want to probe the case further… We want justice and so we would move higher courts against the closure report.”
Earlier, Pune rural police arrested six in the murder case, including advocate Vijay Dabhade from Talegaon, his clerk Pramod Waghmode, Navnath Shelar of Bhosari, Parshuram Telgu alias Jakkal, Dongrya Hanumant Rathod and Shyam Dabhade. Telgu was discharged and the charge-sheet was filed only against the remaining five. All of them were later released on bail. The arrests were made following a statement by history-sheeter Santosh Shinde.
Police claimed that Shinde confessed to have accepted a supari of Rs 1 lakh from Dabhade for killing Shetty, but refused after knowing he was working for the common man. Rural police pointed out details of past disputes between Shetty and Dabhade. Sandip said past disputes between Satish and Dabhade were settled.
Sandip said Satish exposed an alleged land scam by IRB and Sabale Waghire group in Kamshet area, following which Lonavala city police lodged an offence against IRB chairman and managing director Virendra Mhaiskar and 12 others including government officials on October 15, 2009. On November 24, 2009, Satish filed an application with the rural police seeking protection as he was getting threats.
“Obviously, we thought the rural police should probe IRB’s involvement in Satish’s murder. Instead, the rural police ignored details mentioned in Satish’s application for protection and focused their probe on Dabhade and others. Whereas the CBI probe focussed on IRB. So I feel that a probe by Pune rural police was malafide,” he said.
A special investigation team (SIT) of CBI, Mumbai took over the investigation in September 2010. The probe was taken over by CBI, Pune to find whether IRB was involved in the murder and whether the investigation by rural police was to cover up facts. In March 2010, Sandip filed an affidavit with the Bombay High Court that police had failed to pursue those named by Shetty in his application for protection. Sandip stated in this affidavit, “The murder of Satish was most likely a result of his exposing scams involving strong and influential people like Virendra Mhaiskar and Nitin Sable, who have strongest motive to kill him. The fact that they even tried to bribe and threaten him caused him to name them in his application for police protection as likely source of danger to his life.”
In mid-2012, the CBI requested the Pune court to allow them to conduct polygraph test on some persons associated to IRB including Mhaiskar and Nitin Sable, the director of Sable-Waghire Pvt Ltd and also seven cops- inspector (retired) Bhausaheb Andalkar, inspector Sunil Tonpe, assistant inspector Namdeo Kauthale, head constable Ramesh Gabaji Nale, police naik Rajendra Mirghe, constable (retired) Kailash Labade, head constable Shahaji Athavale, associated with Pune rural police.
The court had allowed the CBI to conduct a polygraph test on Advocate Dabhade and other accused. The CBI recorded the statement of IPS officer Pratap Dighavkar, the then superintendent of Pune rural police. But in the four years it probed the case, CBI made no arrests. IRB scrapped its township project on this disputed land in Kamshet area in 2012.