A GHATKOPAR resident has moved a habeas corpus petition before the Bombay High Court seeking directions to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the Pant Nagar police to produce before the court his nephew, who had gone missing on September 5 after being allegedly beaten up by officers from DRI’s Mumbai Zonal Unit.
In his plea filed on Monday, Ajitsingh Rao has stated that his nephew Nilesh Rajawat, who worked for M/S Ekdant Commercial Private Limited, had been staying with him for four years.
Ekdant Commercial’s director Happy Dhakad had been under DRI scanner in connection with the alleged smuggling of 3,396 kg of gold worth over Rs 1,000 crore, between July 2018 and March 2019.
The plea added that around 6 am on August 29, Rao’s residence was raided by the DRI in connection with a probe into Ekdant Commercial’s affairs. After two hours of search, the DRI officers allegedly first took Rajawat to their office, then to the company factory and then again to the DRI office.
When Rajawat was taken to the DRI office for the second time, he saw Rao there and told him that the officers had brutally beaten him up, the plea stated.
On Monday, DRI counsel Hiten Venegaokar told the bench of Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Nitin B Suryawanshi that Rajawat was not in their custody. He submitted that Rajawat had visited the DRI office on August 31 and September 1, and was allowed to go home after he was questioned. He was again called for questioning on September 4, but Rajawat allegedly said that since it is raining, he will visit them the next day.
This was Rajawat’s last conversation with DRI officers, said Venegaokar, adding that there is CCTV camera footage that shows that Rajawat was not beaten up at the DRI office.
Following this, the bench asked the government pleader to take instructions from the Pant Nagar police, on the whereabouts of Rajawat and posted the matter for Monday. Ghatkopar falls under the jurisdiction of Pant Nagar police.
In the petition, Rao has claimed that when Rajawat returned home from DRI office on August 29, he was “totally disoriented and shaken and had bruises all over his face and was not even able to stand without support”.
He added that Rajawat told him that “he was stripped and badly beaten up and was not allowed to sleep for a whole night”. Later, he was allegedly forced to give a certain statement against his employer.
On September 1, hours after Rajawat had gone to the DRI office, Rao received a call from the DRI office, asking him to take Rajawat home. When Rao reached the office, he found Rajawat sitting on a chair. He was totally “battered and bruised and there was blood all over his shirt and cuts on his hand”, the petition said.
It added that on September 5, Rajawat left home to visit the DRI office at 10 am. After sometime, when Rao went to the DRI office with his friends, an officer allegedly asked him where was Rajawat. Following this, Rao contacted Rajawat’s relatives, friends and family. With no news of Rajawat, Rao reported the matter to the Pant Nagar police, where a missing complaint was filed.
On September 6, Rao allegedly received a four-page letter signed by Rajawat. He forwarded it to the Pant Nagar police. In the letter, Rajawat had alleged that he was physically abused and humiliated by DRI officers and also threatened to be shot.
Rao alleged in the petition that the possibility of Rajawat being in the custody of DRI cannot be denied. He alleged that if DRI officers have murdered Rajawat, then his body should be handed over to Rao for last rites.