Pune: Teenager’s father alleges his son was burnt alive after he said he was Hindu

On Thursday, members of Rathod’s Banjara community and Hindutva groups met senior police officers and threatened to launch an agitation on January 27 over the death.

Written by Chandan Haygunde | Pune | Updated: January 22, 2016 10:49 am
Savan Rathod’s father and brother in Pune. (Source: Arul Horizon) Savan Rathod’s father and brother in Pune. (Source: Arul Horizon)

The death of a teenager who was set on fire by three people, including two brothers, who accused him of stealing vehicle batteries has acquired a communal colour in Pune.

While the 17-year-old’s father has alleged that his son was burnt alive after he identified himself as a Hindu, a purported video of the boy confirming the allegation while on his death bed has gone public.

Some pro-Hindutva groups, meanwhile, have demanded an investigation by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), claiming that the manner in which Savan Rathod was killed “matched the methods” of Islamic State militants.

On Thursday, members of Rathod’s Banjara community and Hindutva groups met senior police officers and threatened to launch an agitation on January 27 over the death. Also, a magistrate court extended police custody of the three suspects — Imran and Zuber Tamboli, and Ibrahim Sheikh — until January 25.

According to the police FIR — the 17-year-old is listed as the complainant — Rathod was set on fire with petrol by the three suspects in a narrow lane in Kasba Peth in the afternoon of January 13 after they accused him of stealing. He succumbed to his injuries last Friday.

The boy’s father, Dharma Rathod, has now disputed the police charge. “Savan left home about a week before his death following a petty quarrel with his sister. After coming to know about the incident, I reached Sassoon hospital (where Savan was admitted) on Thursday evening. I asked him what happened…. From what he told me I believe that assailants did ask him whether he was a Hindu and then burnt him alive after he said ‘yes’,” said Dharma.

While police said there was no record of any offence registered against the boy in the past, some members of the Banjara community claimed to have recorded a video of Savan at the hospital.

The purported video shows him as saying: “I was working with my family in Pandhapur. I had a dispute with them and came to Pune looking for work…While I was urinating, three persons objected and asked me my name. I said Savan Rathod. They asked me if I am Hindu? I said ‘yes’. Then they poured something over me from a can and set me on fire.”

Those recording the video then ask Savan if he feels he was burnt because he is a Hindu. To this, Savan is seen nodding his head.

Said advocate Ramesh Rathod, representing Banjara Kranti Dal, “When we went to the hospital on Thursday evening… Savan’s situation was bad. So we asked police to record his statement before he dies. But the cops refused, saying he himself was the complainant. So I recorded his dying declaration on my cellphone in the presence of his father and other activists. He did not mention anything about theft. Maybe, police fear that revealing the facts would create communal tensions.”

When contacted, DCP Tushar Doshi said, “We probed the backgrounds of all three suspects. No communal links have been found so far. They have committed a gruesome crime. But there is no evidence to say the intention behind it was communal.”

Doshi added, “After nabbing Savan, the assailants questioned him for battery theft for a few hours. We confirmed at least two spots where they took Savan, suspecting he had sold stolen batteries here. Then they forcibly made him drink petrol and set him on fire… Savan Rathod’s video at the hospital could be an afterthought as he did not mention anything of a communal nature when FIR was lodged.”

Police said Sheikh is a tempo driver while the Tamboli brothers operate a scrap-material shop in the Kasba Peth area. Police said Zuber was earlier booked in an attempt to murder case a few years before.

On Thursday, Banjara activists handed over an application to probe the extremist links of the suspects and a CD with the purported video to police at the Faraskhana station.

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  1. D
    Davidm
    Mar 17, 2017 at 11:17 am
    Another incident used to inflame hatred and violence against the minorities in India. Likely to be used for another killing spree against innocent Muslims.
    Reply
    1. J
      Jai Kumar
      Jan 22, 2016 at 9:02 am
      Was dadri headline hindu mob allegedly kill Muslim or was it Hindu mob lynch Muslim. Why double standards in reporting.. Don't Hindu lives matter
      Reply
      1. I
        indian
        Jan 22, 2016 at 3:13 am
        Any comments Congress?
        Reply
        1. S
          Sirius
          Jan 22, 2016 at 4:01 am
          Don't politicize this just yet. Wait for the support for the culprits to emerge, you will know whom to implicate.
          Reply
          1. C
            Chopra TP
            Jan 22, 2016 at 9:17 am
            Kejriwal Must Resign along with Rahul hi. Both these are the people responsible for spreading this hatred against Hindus in this country. They will be dealt with by the people of this country very soon.
            Reply
            1. E
              EachOneTeachOne
              Jan 22, 2016 at 4:43 am
              In his suicide note, Rohit Vemula wrote: "The value of a man was reduced to his immediate ideny and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of stardust. In very field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living." Which is so true... on any criminal incidents e-fanatics just start spitting their venom on social platform to provoke either communal or racial or caste based comments. Everyone has become big fan of killing and justifying their own stand and How that makes them better they only understand. Every crime needs serious punishment by law and it doesn't matter who does it.
              Reply
            2. M
              Mfeku MoNa
              Jan 22, 2016 at 4:07 pm
              The rss and saffron hindus should ask Modi and shah to raise a case for them rather than rahul or mamta since Modi ia ur leader but sincw u made him PM, he is now not interested in any of you or ur troubles... Btw i hope the family geta justice and some peace aftwr loosing someone.
              Reply
              1. M
                Mfeku MoNa
                Jan 22, 2016 at 4:29 pm
                The saffron terrorist are caught into their own trap!! How many were u complaining when Gujarat was burning? Well Karma is a funny word, what goes round comes round!!! FEKU PM ko laye to Acche din to ane hi the!!
                Reply
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