Bhima-Koregaon witness death: Autopsy report doesn’t indicate murder

Nagpur : Postmortem report of Pooja Sakat, an eyewitness in the Bhima Koregaon caste violence case, didn’t indicate murder, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the Legislative Council today.

Body of Sakat (19), a Dalit, was found floating in a well near rehabilitation site for the violence victims near Bhima-Koregaon in April this year.

Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar had demanded inquiry into death of Sakat while alleging that she was murdered.

Sakat’s house was burnt down during the caste violence in Pune district earlier this year.

“The postmortem report of the woman witness to the Bhima-Koregaon violence who was found dead in a well didn’t prove murder. Police are investigating the matter seriously. The guilty will not be spared,” Fadnavis said during a discussion on the issue.

Members of opposition Congress and NCP attacked Fadnavis over the issue and sought to know the status of the investigation.

Sakat’s family had alleged that some persons, whom she had named as accused in her statement to the police after her house was torched on January 1, were threatening and pressurising her to withdraw her statement, which drove her to suicide.

The police had registered a case of abetment of suicide under IPC section 306 and offences under the Scheduled Castes And Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Police had arrested two former neighbours of the Sakat family for abetment of suicide.

In his reply, the chief minister said, “the family of the deceased (and neighbours) had issues between them. The accused named by the woman in her complaint before her death had secured bail”.

MLCs Jaidev Gaikwad, Sharad Ranpise, Bhai Jagtap, Janardhan Chandurkar, Prakash Gajbhiye and others sought action against Bhima-Koregaon caste violence accused Sambhaji Bhide.

Responding to opposition’s charge that the state government was shielding Bhide, a right wing leader, who had made controversial statements in recent past, the CM said the government didn’t approve of Bhide’s remarks.

“Bhide’s statements will be probed and necessary action will be taken against him accordingly,” he said.

MLC Bhai Jagtap said Bhide’s remarks had dented Maharashtra’s image as a progressive state.

To this, Fadnavis said he had already given directions to find out criminality in Bhide’s remarks.

Bhide had kicked up a controversy after he allegedly said that childless couples bore sons after eating mangoes from his orchard.

He had reportedly said that Manu (referred to as the progenitor of humans in Hindu texts) was superior to sant Dnyaneshwar and sant Tukaram, who are reverred by devotees of Lord Vitthal across Maharashtra.

As opposition MLCs demanded arrest of Bhide, Fadnavis said, “A due process has to be followed in such cases. We will not spare the guilty”.

The monsoon session of the state legislature is currently underway in Nagpur.