With Eknath Khadse’s resignation on Saturday, Pune-based builder Hemant Gavande, the whistleblower in the Maharashtra Revenue Minister’s allegedly illegal land deal in Pune, may have won the first round, but he believes the battle is far from over.
“The police are yet to file an FIR (against Khadse), although it’s been a week since I gave them a written complaint. My work is not complete until the case reaches its logical and legal conclusion,” he told The Indian Express on Saturday afternoon, soon after it emerged that Khadse had quit.
Of all recent allegations against the MLA from Jalgaon, the charge that he allegedly bought a three-acre plot in Pune’s Bhosari industrial area was the most virulent. Gavande, 38, had approached Bundgarden police with a written complaint in this regard.
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It comes almost a year-and-a-half after the minister, and a builder said to be close to Khadse, had purportedly got a case lodged against Gavande for land grab in Bopodi area of Pune. The station diary from Shivajinagar Police Station in Pune shows that in January 2015, Khadse had called a meeting of police and agriculture officers at the College of Agriculture, Pune. On agenda was a discussion on alleged acquisition of land belonging to the college, apparently with forged documents.
Khadse had reportedly issued verbal orders for a case to be registered. The case was registered at Shivajinagar Police Station.
The issue was first raised by Pune-based builder Ravindra Barate, known to be close to Khadse. In his allegations, Barate had named Gavande and a few senior civic body officials for their role in the transaction. Refuting all charges, Gavande had hit back earlier this year, lodging a case of extortion against Barate. On his part, Barate denies the charge of extortion.
Gavande denies he was working to get back at the minister. Khadse was not available for a comment, and Barate had switched off his phone on Saturday.
But on May 23, the builder, an admirer of V D ‘Veer’ Savarkar, the right-wing ideologue venerated by the RSS and the BJP, and whose Facebook profile has pictures of him with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, levelled the first serious corruption charge against a BJP minister after Narendra Modi took office two years ago with a promise to root out corruption. Addressing the media in Pune, Gavande showed documents he said he had procured over the previous few weeks. He alleged that Khadse had misused his position to execute an illegal sale deed in the name of his wife and son-in-law.
According to Gavande, he “accidentally” stumbled upon the case. He had gone to the sub-registrar’s office — Haveli number 10 — on April 28 this year to register some documents and found an “unusual haste” there. “I asked around, and was told that the office was busy registering a sale deed for Eknath Khadse,” Gavande said. “Naturally, I was curious.”
Gavande said he did “extensive research” about the land in question, “and stumbled upon this scam”. The builder claims he gathered most of the documents through online repositories of various government agencies and the courts.
However, in private both police and revenue officers question the chances of Gavande being at the right place at the right time to lay his hands on all that “evidence”. The gossip in the BJP circles is that Gavande was given these documents by an insider — a charge he vehemently denies. “I do not know any BJP leader,” he said.