RTI activist Suhas Haldankar, who exposed several civic lapses and raised voice against the inefficiency of local corporators in Kharalwadi area of Pimpri-Chinchwad, was murdered late Sunday evening allegedly by 11 people, including a former Congress corporator. All of them have been arrested and were remanded to eight-day police custody by a local court. Tension prevailed in Kharalwadi on Monday as locals took out a silent march demanding action against the culprits and end to “goonda raj” in the area.
According to police, Haldankar, who was going home on his motorbike around 10 pm on Sunday, was stopped by two of the accused at a chowk in Kharalwadi area. He was allegedly ridiculed by the accused over a board that he had put up, highlighting the lack of basic civic amenities in Kharalwadi. The board was put up just before the recent civic elections. The area is represented by two Congress corporators.
As an argument began between the accused and Haldankar, the others reportedly started thrashing Haldankar. One of them picked up a concrete block and threw it at the activist, police said. It hit Haldankar on the head. Others also threw concrete blocks towards Haldankar, who then collapsed in a pool of blood, according to one of the witnesses, who has given a statement to the police.
There are at least five witnesses in the case. Haldankar was rushed to the hospital but declared dead on arrival.
The arrested have been identified as former corporator Sadguru Mahadev Kadam (45), Kalya alias Sandip Tanaji Kalapure (39), Pratul Revji Ghadge (38), Abhijit Balasaheb Kalapure (26), Dattatreya alias Fetya Gulab Kalapure (28), Santosh Magan alias Mundya Arbekar (43), Pravin alias Zingrya Mahadev Kadam (31), Khandya alias Pravin Pandurang Savant (24), Santosh alias Babya Chandrakant Kadam (27), Amar Mohammed Pathan (25) and Satish Mahadev Kadam (33) — all residents of Kharalwadi. A search is on for another accused, Ganesh Jadhav.
“Initial probe revealed that Kalya alias Sandip Kalapure, who worked as a watchman at the children’s home run by Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), had lost his job because of Haldankar. Haldankar had complained to PCMC that Kalapure was mostly absent. An inquiry was initiated by PCMC against Kalapure and he lost his job. Haldankar had also put up banners in the area against Kailas Kadam (who is the brother of accused Sadguru Kadam. Both are former corporators),” said assistant inspector R R Thubal, who is probing the case.