For the second time, the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has said there is no cognisable offence made out in the death of seven-year-old Yogita Thakre whose body was found in a car on the compound of BJP leader Nitin Gadkari’s residence here in May 2009.
This has led to fresh demands for a CBI inquiry from Yogita’s family and trade unionist Jammu Anand, who held a press conference on Thursday to share details of the CID’s second closure report.
Alleging that the CID was suppressing the real facts of the case, Mr. Anand said the driver of the car in which Yogita was found, Manohar Panse, who is also a witness in the case, was made director for seven companies of the Purti Group on a single day — July 24, 2009. Mr. Panse was also made director in three more companies and additional director in one company, he pointed out.
Mr. Anand, who represents the Domestic Workers Union, affiliated to the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), and Kiran Thakre, Yogita’s sister, said the new CID report was another cover-up and they had lost all faith in the agency. The first investigating officer, R.M. Katole of the Kotwali police station, had registered a case of murder with sound reason and based on medical opinion, Mr. Anand pointed out.
In its May 22, 2012 report to the judicial magistrate who had asked the CID last December to further investigate the death of Yogita, the CID once again said there was no case. Yogita was playing on the compound of Mr. Gadkari’s house and died of suffocation after getting into an ‘ultra modern car’, whose doors got tightly locked due to the heat. The girl could not open the doors and died as a result, the CID said.
The CID also said Mr. Katole could have registered a case of murder and destruction of evidence against unknown persons due to a misunderstanding and pressure from the media and his seniors.
In response to the CID’s first closure report, last December, Magistrate Nilima K Patil said that after going through the records and the submission for closing the case, she noticed that the CID had only recorded the statements of witnesses and filed a ‘C’ summary report under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code concluding that no offence was made out and the girl had died due to suffocation.
She noted that despite further directions by the High Court, the CID had done “mere recording of statements.” “It appears that no investigation was carried out keeping in mind the High Court directions and it showed want of appreciation of the emergent need to get at the truth of the case,” she said.
However, the CID, in its fresh report, questioned the magistrate’s order for a further probe, saying she had not specified the areas where the reinvestigation was required. As a result, the CID, after consultations with senior police officers and considering the demands of victim’s mother Vimal Thakre, decided to probe 10 main sticking points.
In her response to the first closure report, Ms. Vimal Thakre had asked the police to probe several points and among them was the blood stains on her daughter’s underwear, whether anyone had seen her entering the car, whether the inquest panchnama was rewritten, a probe on the character of Mr. Gadkari’s two drivers and if any cases were registered against them earlier and why her daughter’s undergarments were sent to Mumbai for forensic analysis.
The CID said it had examined these ten points minutely and found that Ms. Vimal Thakre had raised all these issues to mislead the investigation. All the issues raised by her were found to be baseless and imaginary, the CID said.
Magistrate Ms. Patil had said detailed investigation was necessary to throw light on the aspects considered by the High Court, i.e. the reason for Yogita’s death, and the different mention of the car in the inquest panchnama against the car in which she was found dead.
After Yogita’s body was found in the car on May 19, 2009, her parents, in a petition in the High Court, alleged that she was murdered and sexually assaulted and demanded a CBI probe. The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court ordered a CID probe on March 5, 2010 and the agency concluded that it was a case of accidental death and she died in a closed car due to suffocation. The CID took over the case on May 7, 2010.
The High Court, while ordering a CID investigation, took the following points into account: The post-mortem report said the cause of death was smothering and initially the investigation was carried on the premise that the death was homicidal. Dr. Sayara Merchant, Head of the Paediatrics Department, Government Medical College, Nagpur, said Yogita’s death could not have occurred due to suffocation in the car with doors locked. Thereafter, the prosecution sought a report from the two doctors who did the post-mortem, who in a U-turn, opined that the death was not homicidal. Initially, the investigation was carried out on the basis that the body of Yogita was found in a Honda CRV vehicle MH 31 DB 2727 and there is a reference to this effect in the inquest panchnama.
However, on the basis of the statements of several witnesses, the investigating officer came to the finding that the body was found in Fiat Linea Car MH 31 CS 2727. The record also discloses that in the post-mortem report, doctors noted several injuries on the person of Yogita and blood stains were found on her clothes.