Bhima Koregaon riot victim Pooja Sakat’s suicide: Two arrested, 9 booked
Pune The Shikrapur police have booked nine persons and arrested two amongst them on charges of abetting suicide of Bhima Koregaon riot victim Pooja Sakat (19) whose house was burnt during the violence on January 1, 2018. The arrested suspects have been identified as Vilas Shreedhar Vedpathak and Ganesh Vilas Pathak, while the others booked have been identified as Navnath Dnyanoba Darekar, Somnath Phakkad Darekar, Vilas Kaluram Darekar, advocate Sudhir Dhamdere, Subhash Ghawate, Goraksha Patilbuwa Thorat and Ganesh Goraksha Thorat.
The body of Pooja, a Class 11 student, was found in the well near the rehabilitation project on Sunday afternoon leading to tension in the area. Her family had reported a missing complaint after Pooja could not be found after she stepped out the house for some work on April 21.
Following the recovery of Pooja’s body, an FIR in connection with the case was lodged by her family member Dilip Nanasaheb Sakat, a resident of Kedgaon in Ahmednagar District. According to the police, the victim was staying in the rehabilitation project and was missing since April 21 and could not be traced till late night after which an FIR was lodged. Her body was found on April 22 which led to tension in the area.
The victim’s body was brought to Sassoon General Hospital where autopsy was performed amidst heavy police bandobast. Her family members and relatives told the police that her body will not be accepted and taken for the last rites till the suspects were arrested by the police. Pune rural SP Mohammad Suvez Haque contacted the district collector and assured the family about action and that they would be rehabilitated in a month.
The Sakat family alleged that they had received death threats from the accused in the past and their house was burnt in front of the deceased and her brother Jaideep. A complaint regarding this was lodged at Shikrapur police station and the victim’s family was threatened again on February 11. The Sakat brothers –Jaideep and Suresh – had gone to Ahmednagar for a yatra on April 20 and found their sister missing on April 21.
The accused have been booked under IPC Section 306 (abetment to suicide), and Section 34 of the Scheduled Castes And Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Further investigation is being carried by Economic Offences Wing, sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) of Pune rural police Manik Bhakre. Many leaders of Dalit organisations visited the family and offered their condolences.
Pooja belonged to Dalit community and was a witness to her house burning incident. Her brother Jaideep had earlier lodged an FIR with Shikrapur police station stating that some persons had been issuing threats to him and the family in connection with the violence. Jaideep had addressed the media in the city on April 6 and expressed anguish that the state government had not taken action against the accused who were threatening his family. Jaideep had alleged that despite naming the accused in the FIR, the police were not arresting them in the case.
Police inspector Ramesh Galande, in-charge of Shikrapur police station said, “We have registered a case of abetment to suicide against nine persons and two of them have been arrested,” he said, adding that they are on the lookout for the other suspects.
The Sakat family hails from Karjat tehsil of Ahmednagar district and their house was burnt during the Bhima Koregaon violence. The riots led to the death of Rahul Fatangale from Sanaswadi. Fatangale, the son of a farmer, was killed by a mob at Sanaswadi on January 1 after riots broke out in Bhima Koregaon during the commemoration of the 200 years of Bhima Koregaon war of January 1, 1818, in which the British forces defeated the Peshwa army.