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  Missing Malegaon witness’ kin seek probe, justice

Missing Malegaon witness’ kin seek probe, justice

AGE CORRESPONDENT
Published : May 21, 2016, 10:12 am IST
Updated : May 21, 2016, 10:12 am IST

Padma Ptidar (C), wife of Dilip Patidar, the missing accused of Malegaon blast, flanked by her son Himanshu (L) and brother-in-law Ramswarup addressing the media during a press conference in Mumbai. (Photo: PTI)

Padma Patidar.jpg
 Padma Patidar.jpg

Padma Ptidar (C), wife of Dilip Patidar, the missing accused of Malegaon blast, flanked by her son Himanshu (L) and brother-in-law Ramswarup addressing the media during a press conference in Mumbai. (Photo: PTI)

Family members of Indore-based Dilip Patidar, a key witness in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, who went missing after being questioned by Maharashtra ATS, have urged chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to grant sanction to the CBI to prosecute police officials of the state’s anti-terror squad. The family members, who met Mr Fadnavis here, also sought an NIA probe into his disappearance.

“We only have hope. What else can we have ” said Ramswarup Patidar, Dilip’s brother, who has been searching for him since 2008.

Dilip, an electrician who was then 26 years old and a resident of Indore, was picked up by two ATS officers, Rajan Ghule and Ramesh More, from his house on November 10, 2008. He was staying with his wife Padma and his son, then aged five, as a tenant in a house owned by Ramchandra Kalsangra who was alleged to be an RSS worker and involved in the blasts.

“They came knocking in the dead of the night and I opened the door since I was finishing some household chores. I woke my husband up and he stepped out to talk to them and then they whisked him away,” said Padma. She adds that she started to worry when Dilip did not return all night. “I took a bus and went to the nearest police station located in Khajrana, five kilometres away. They were clueless. Then I went to the Indore police station and there initially they told me they did not know anything but then said that he might have been taken to Mumbai. I panicked and called my father in law and at about 3 pm that day he got a call on his phone from Dilip,” she said.

Dilip allegedly told his family that he had been brought to Mumbai and was being beaten up mercilessly by officials. “He called everyday for a week and all his calls would last only for five to six seconds. He sounded very scared and said there was a constant threat to his life,” she said.

The last call, his family says, came on November 17. After that, hearing nothing from him, the family started panicking. Meanwhile, the ATS informed them that they had released Dilip and even claimed that they had ensured he was on the train home, as they wanted him to get some documents back.

The family had by then started doing the rounds of police stations to lodge a missing persons complaint but were snubbed repeatedly. They then approached the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High court and filed a habeas corpus petition, which was admitted on November 24. Following this, the HC set up a joint team to locate him, which submitted its report saying that Patidar had gone into hiding. The family then approached the Court again. In October 2010, the HC directed the CBI to investigate Patidar’s disappearance.

The CBI conducted its investigation, found evidence against the ATS, and indicted the two officers — Ghule and More. However, they could not be prosecuted since the CBI needed state sanction to prosecute, and this was denied.

Eight years on, the family, which has been repeatedly demanding a fresh enquiry and that the role of the two officers be investigated, has managed to get a hearing from the government.

“We met the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and have asked him to grant sanction to prosecute the said officers. We suspect that Dilip was kidnapped, tortured and then killed,” said Ramswarup.

He adds that his brother was treated like a criminal without any proof against him. “If there was proof against him then why did they let him go And if they were so confident then why did they not follow the proper procedure ” asked Padma.

The family, which has also demanded further enquiry by the National Investigation Agency, said while they have given up hope of seeing Dilip alive, they want a clear answer.

“I am not a widow but without my husband with me since so many years, I am one. I wear sindoor but I don’t know whether I should,” said a teary-eyed Padma.