WHEN THANE builder Suraj Parmar shot himself inside a flat in an under-construction project by his company on October 7 last year, the ensuing investigations and the discovery of his detailed suicide note blaming politicians and officials for alleged harassment of builders led investigators to peruse records of the Thane Municipal Corporation’s meetings, records maintained by Parmar himself regarding alleged payoffs, phone records and more.
But despite initial indications that many more politicians, including some senior leaders from various parties, could find themselves under scanner, officers in the Thane police now admit that the case is unlikely to see any further arrest apart from the four corporators already in judicial custody.
While the police have a diary in which Parmar maintained what appeared to be records of which politician and civic department he had paid money to in order to get specific clearances for his projects, Parmar’s secretary has now told investigators that while she made many of the entries, she does not recognise the various initials and code names used to refer to politicians. In the absence of any corroboration that certain initials referred to key political leaders in Thane, police rue that they may not have enough evidence to make further arrests.
Parmar had left behind a 13-page suicide note naming some politicians that he had later scratched out apparently as an afterthought. The letter was sent for forensic analysis, following which NCP corporators Vikrant Chavan and Najeeb Mulla, Congress corporator Hanumant Jagdale and Independent corporator Sudhakar Chavan were arrested.
A senior police officer privy to the investigation said if Parmar’s secretary had given a statement identifying the others, that could have served as evidence to call them in for questioning. “So far, she has maintained that she does not know who these people are. She just entered the names that were dictated by Parmar and the amounts that were paid,” the senior officer told The Indian Express. He added that there were hundreds of entries of money paid to several departments of the Thane Municipal Corporation, including names, surnames and pet names that they “have a clue about”, but cannot summon without any further evidence.
The other way to take action against the names mentioned in the diary, said an officer, was to get evidence against the names in the form of the money trail leading from Parmar to the persons named in the diary during the time frame mentioned in the diary. “There are certain problems associated with getting evidence to prove that the amounts were paid to the persons named in the diary. They could have been using other accounts. If we do not get any information from the secretary, we may not be able to chargesheet anyone else,” said the officer. Since the coporators were formally arrested on December 6, the police have some more time to get evidence before the chargesheet is filed.
A defence lawyer said the police hardly had any evidence even in the case of the four corporators. “Even if a demand was made, that could have been an amount the builder had borrowed and they were asking for it to be returned. Anyone can claim anything. Unless the police find proof of a money trail, their case will not stand,” claimed the lawyer.
He added that even when it came to the names found in the diary, the police would not be able to do anything unless they could find some solid evidence. “Merely names written in a diary do not constitute anything in a court of law,” said the lawyer.