POLICE HAVE arrested an RTI activist, who was on the run for over the past year and is wanted in 13 cases of cheating and land grabbing.
Police have identified the accused as Ravindra Laxman Barhate, known to be an RTI activist.
Following a complaint lodged by a builder, Sudhit Karnataki, an FIR was lodged against Barhate at Kothrud police station last year. Karnataki had alleged that Barhate had threatened to falsely implicate him in a rape case, and had demanded Rs 2 crore along with ownership of a land in Rasta Peth.
According to police, Barhate had moved court for seeking anticipatory bail last year, but in September 2020, his plea was rejected by Supreme Court.
Police said he continued to be on the run, while his aides were booked in more criminal cases of cheating, extortion and land grabbing.
In October 2020, police also invoked the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against him and his aides, including dismissed policemen Shailesh Jagtap and Parvez Jamadar, and journalist Devendra Jain, who is known to have developed close links to several top police officers. Jain was arrested initially, but later granted bail. He is now on the run.
Pune police commissioner Amitabh Gupta told the media on Tuesday that Barhate had been arrested. “We have, so far, arrested 32 people in the case. There are 17 cases against them, including the MCOCA case. Barhate was absconding for the past one year. Further action will be taken…” he said.
While invoking the MCOCA against the accused, police had said Barhate had formed an organised gang and committed multiple crimes like cheating, threatening, extortion, in a span of 10 years. Police also claimed that he acquired property worth Rs 2,700 crore through illegal activities.
In the last one week, police arrested Barhate’s son Mayur, wife Sangeeta, a lawyer Sunil More and one Pitambar Dhiwar, in connection with a case lodged at Hadapsar police station.