A year after he was killed in the Koregaon Bhima violence, the family of 30-year-old Rahul Babaji Phatangade demanded that the key suspects in the case should be arrested soon. On Tuesday, Rahul’s mother Janabai attended a blood donation camp organised in his memory in Satara while his brother, constable Vishnu Phatangade, was one of the many police personnel on duty to ensure Koregaon Bhima remained peaceful.
Vishnu, who is part of the bomb detection and disposal squad of Pune Rural Police, said he was on duty from 4 am to 10 pm near the Jaystambh in Perne village on Tuesday. “In the wake of the violence last year, tight security arrangements were made in Koregaon Bhima area. I was part of it… being on duty was more important for me. It is good that this time, the programme on January 1 went on peacefully…,” he said.
His mother has still not recovered from the loss, said Vishnu. “Now, she lives with me at the police headquarters in Pune. On January 1, she went to Satara to attend a blood donation camp organised by a group to remember Rahul on his first death anniversary. His murder has devastated our family,” said Vishnu.
A day before the death anniversary, on December 31, Rahul’s cousin Tejas Dhawade had visited the Jaystambh with a group of people and appealed for peace the next day. “At the Jaystambh, I said both Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar are national heroes, and the society should follow their ideals, to maintain peace and live in harmony,” said Tejas.
He also pointed out that a year after the murder, police were still to track down and arrest two key suspects in the case. “A year has passed, but two key suspects involved in the murder are yet to be arrested. We want the CID to arrest them soon,” said Tejas.
Rahul, a member of the Maratha community who operated a garage in Chandan Nagar, lived in Sanaswadi. On the day of the incident, at around 5 pm, he was picked up by a mob and beaten to death. The mob had reportedly targeted him as he was wearing a jacket with a picture of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Initial investigation had led to the arrest of three suspects by the Pune Rural Police. The case was later transferred to the criminal investigation department (CID). The CID went through videos of the attack on Rahul and identified some suspects. One of the suspects was arrested from Daund taluka in June last year. The department has also released video and photographs of the suspects, and appealed to people to share information about them.