The BJP on Saturday kept up the pressure on the MVA government in Maharashtra over the alleged suicide of a 23-year-old woman in Pune, claiming that state forest minister Sanjay Rathod was connected to the incident. While Rathod, a Shiv Sena leader from Yavatmal, was not available for comment, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said a detailed probe will be carried out and those found guilty will be punished.
"As the available electronic and other evidence indicates (connection of) Sanjay Rathod, Chief Minister Thackeray should remove him from the cabinet. Otherwise we will have to assume that the CM is shielding him," BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar said in a video message earlier in the day. The woman died after falling from a building in Pune's Hadapsar area in the wee hours of February 8.
According to Wanwadi police who have registered a case of accidental death, there was no suicide note. Some social media posts claimed that she was in a relationship with a cabinet minister in the state. "Thackeray should set up a special investigation team including an IPS officer and a retired judge. They should take all the available evidence in their possession," Bhatkhalkar further said.
Chief minister Thackeray said a detailed probe will be carried out and the truth will come out. "Those who deserve to be punished will be punished.
Till then, innocent people should not be made to suffer," he told reporters. Speaking to reporters in Aurangabad, senior Shiv Sena leader and Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde said nobody should be linked with the case without evidence.
"The case is sensitive and unfortunate. Connecting a person's name to it without any proof and certainty will not be appropriate. Demanding (Rathod's) resignation in a hurry too is not right," he said. On Friday, BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had asked why Pune Police had not registered an FIR in the case.
The deceased woman was known for her videos on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram. After her death, audio clips of her purported conservation with two persons went viral. Fadnavis said his office received 12 clips of conversation between two persons linked to the woman's death, and he had forwarded them to the Director General of Police.