Ten days after it began a probe into allegations of sexual harassment against former Forest Minister Sanjay Rathod, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by Yavatmal police gave him a clean chit after the woman in question reportedly told the team that she had made no such charges, and that the letter written in her name wasn’t sent by her.
Yavatmal police had received a letter on August 11, which accused Rathod of demanding sexual favours from the wife of a former teacher at a school run by him, in lieu of getting her husband reinstated at his job.
Superintendent of Police Dilip Bhujbal had constituted the SIT led by Additional Superintendent of Police Khanderao Dharne on August 12 to probe into the allegation.
“The SIT conducted a thorough probe over the last eight days and has reached the conclusion that allegations against Sanjay Rathod were not made by the woman in whose name we had received the letter containing the allegation,” Bhujbal told The Indian Express.
He added, “Our team comprising police inspectors from Ghatanji and Wadgaon, an officer from cyber cell and lady officers from our Bharosa cell met the woman in the presence of her father and husband and recorded her statement on camera. She told the SIT that she had not written the letter and that somebody had played a mischief by posting it using her name.”
Bhujbal said, “Rathod had not, at any point of time, demanded sexual favours from her for reinstatement of her husband in the ashram school run by Rathod’s organisation Chhatrapati Kala Shikshan Krushi Krida Va Gramin Vikas Pratishthan at Shivpuri village in Ghatanji tehsil.”
The woman’s husband had resigned from the school in 2017. “The SIT was told that the man working as assistant teacher in the school had resigned due to someone else challenging his posting in the temporary position in court,” Bhujbal said.
The SP further said, “The woman said that accompanied by her father, she had met Rathod about five-six months back to request for reinstatement of her husband in the school. But she clarified that Rathod did not seek sexual favours for fulfillment of her demand.”
Ask if the police would now investigate as to who “played the mischief”, Bhujbal said, “We have already checked with the Ghatanji post office. The SIT was told that two men had come with the letter and had registered it for delivery by speed post. But the identity of the men could not be established.”
Asked if the post office had a CCTV camera, Bhujbal said, “Yes, it has one. It, however, doesn’t capture image from the spot where speed post letters are registered.”
After the allegation surfaced earlier this week, Rathod had addressed a press conference denying having sought sexual favours from anyone, adding the allegations were a conspiracy to end his political career.
Earlier in February, Rathod was embroiled in a controversy after an aspiring model, Puja Chavan, died by suicide in Pune. The death was linked to Rathod, following which the Shiv Sena leader had to resign from the state cabinet.