The Pune district police arrested three suspects, including a lawyer, in connection with the murder of RTI activist Satish Shetty. The Bombay High Court had directed the state government to probe the matter on Thursday.
Pune district superintendent of police, Pratap Dighawkar told Hindustan Times that the police were on the right track.“We are scrutinizing all cases, which Shetty had undertaken and also those cases, in which complaints were filed against him. We are recording statements of all connected with the case to zero in on the culprits,” Dighawkar said.
Shetty had exposed a series of irregularities in land transactions in the lucrative Lonavala-Talegaon area through the Right To Information to Act.
While Dighawkar declined to disclose names of arrested persons saying that it would hamper the investigation, police sources said that Advocate Vijay Dabhade, who had a long-time enmity with Shetty, was taken into custody. Sources named the other two held Parshuram Jakkal and Pramod Waghmare.
According to police sources, Dabhade had allegedly given ‘supari’ (contract) to kill Shetty in November 2008, but it was not carried out. Dabhade then hatched another plan to kill Shetty when he was in jail in connection with a murder case, with Rs 3 lakh as the contract amount.
Dabhade was the legal advisor of Talegaon Municipal Council and Shetty had challenged his appointment saying that the post was illegal. As a result, Dabhade had to quit the post. Dabhade and Shetty also had disputes over other illegal land transactions.
Police investigation revealed that a hearing of the murder case against Dabhade and his wife was scheduled on Friday (January 15). Shetty was one of the witnesses in the case.
Fearing Shetty’s testimony would result into conviction, Dabhade decided to have him killed. Shetty was killed on January 13 while returning from his morning walk.
Police have also recovered a cell phone used by Dabhade. Call and SMS records are enough evidence against Dabhade, said a top police official.