A CBI probe into the disappearance of Malegaon blast witness Dilip Patidar has found that accused officials of Maharashtra ATS had allegedly kept him in illegal custody and attempted to impersonate his voice to assure his family he was alive.
“A Maharashtra ATS team had picked up Dilip Patidar on the night of November 10, 2008, from his Indore residence and brought him to Mumbai without seeking the local police's or court's permission. The team had mentioned Patidar as a suspect in the local police's records while seeking permission to grill him,” said a CBI source.
He added, "However, the same ATS team, recorded Patidar's status as that of a witness in their own records at their headquarters once they reached Mumbai with Patidar."
By changing Patidar's status, from a "suspect" to a "witness", the ATS team allegedly skipped the need to arresting and producing him before any Mumbai court, said the source.
The CBI is set to seek permission from the Maharashtra home department to prosecute ATS's then inspector Rajendra Ghule and then assistant police inspector Ramesh More for their alleged role in abducting Patidar.
The CBI suspects that as part of the conspiracy, Patidar’s phone was allegedly kept active till around November 18, 2008.
“Somebody, impersonating Patidar, would call up only his family members then say he was safe and in ATS’s custody till November 18. The voice could not be confirmed as that of Patidar’s,” CBI source said.
The accused ATS officials had allegedly claimed that Patidar had returned from their office to a relative's residence in Mumbai but could not furnish the address. The CBI, which had unearthed two bodies and conducted forensic tests, is yet to track Patidar’s whereabouts though it suspects he is dead.