A charred body, found near the railway tracks close to the station at Sindhi in Wardha district of Maharashtra has been identified as that of a former journalist who had been abducted from Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh, police said on Sunday.
Although Balaghat police described Sandip Kothari, 40, as a former journalist who had turned “a history-sheeter”, the BSP in his home district demanded a CBI probe into the murder, saying his family was being “tormented” by the sand mafia in the past as he had “exposed” their activities.
Former Balaghat MLA Kishore Samrite was quoted by PTI as saying that Kothari was falsely implicated in more than 12 criminal cases. “He was externed as he wrote against and lodged complaints against manganese and sand mafia and other mighty people involved in organised crimes. His family too was tormented by mafia,” said Samrite.
A senior journalist from Balaghat told The Indian Express: “Kothari was a fearless journalist, who had written many times about the manganese mining mafia in the district and had antagonised many influential people and politicians. Most cases against him were false and fabricated.”
Kothari was abducted on June 19 when he was headed towards Umri village with his friend on his bike.
“We found a body…. A missing case had been registered by Balaghat police, who contacted us. They came with relatives, who identified the body as that of Sandip Kothari on the basis of a keychain,” said Wardha SP Ankit Goyle.
Two persons, Brijendra Geharwar and Vishal Tandi, both from Katangi, have been arrested in connection with the murder. The third suspect Rakesh Naraswani is absconding, according to Additional SP, Balaghat, Neeraj Soni.
“Kothari was a hawker, who used to write dispatches for Nayi Duniya till 2012. There are several cases of black-mailing, extortion, rape, etc against him. He was also externed from the district,” Soni said. “The arrested and the absconder were in fact his associates in many cases and their friendship had turned into rivalry. The three had allegedly implicated him in a rape case in which he was discharged. The enmity could be due to the case.”
Kothari’s murder could lead to some interesting facts, given that the complainant against him in the three alleged rape cases was the same.
The three rape cases were registered in Balaghat district, Gobarvahi situated on Balaghat border in Bhandara district of Maharashtra and Bela in Nagpur district.
While Kothari was discharged in Balaghat case by the court, no chargesheet could be filed in Gobarvahi case due to lack of evidence.
With PTI inputs