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Girl case relief for Gadkari

Nagpur, Nov. 1: A seven-year-old girl found dead in a car at Nitin Gadkari’s home here three years ago had died accidentally, the Maharashtra CID has said in its closure report.

This is the CID’s second closure report after the trial court last year rejected its first report and directed it to reinvestigate the case.

Repeating much of the contents of the first report, the CID said there seemed no foul play in the death of Yogita Thakre, whose mother Vimal worked as a maid at Gadkari’s home. The girl’s family has rejected the findings.

The trial court will hold a hearing after Yogita’s parents, who believe someone tried to molest their daughter before killing her, file their reply.

Yogita had accompanied her mother to work on May 19, 2009, and was found dead in a car parked on Gadkari’s premises. The CID says she must have accidentally got locked inside the car belonging to Sudhir Dive and suffocated while struggling to come out.

Dive is Gadkari’s personal secretary and MD of his Purti group of industries, which is now being probed by income-tax authorities.

The police first registered a case of accidental death but a fortnight later converted it into a murder case. On a petition from Yogita’s parents seeking a CBI probe, the high court handed the investigation to the CID in March 2010.

Yogita, a Class III student with a congenital heart disease and sickle cell anaemia, was found face downwards on the car’s rear seat. The autopsy found bloodstains in her underwear and on her shoulder and thighs, and noted evidence of bleeding from her mouth and nose.

It said the injuries were fresh and the cause of death homicidal or accidental “smothering”. The police never collected fingerprint samples from the car.

At the hospital where Yogita had been treated, associate professor Saira Merchant told the police Yogita had recovered fully from her bacterial infection, and her heart disease could not have caused her death in a closed car.

Two months after the incident, one of the main witnesses, Gadkari’s driver Manohar Panse, was appointed a director on the boards of seven companies that have invested in Purti.

Some of the evidence went against the molest-and-murder theory. The doctors who conducted the autopsy wrote that it was difficult to say if intercourse had been attempted.

They said the absence of bruises or scratches on both sides of the face (as opposed to just one side), nose and the inner surface of the lips went against homicidal smothering. So did the absence of vaginal bleeding.

They dismissed the injury to her private parts, citing the possibility of “bad hygiene... leading to... pruritus vulvae, which leads to itching, resulting in abrasion”.

Her parents say the car was barely 4m from the gate where a guard was on duty: why did no one notice her struggles to come out? How come Yogita left no recoverable fingerprints on the car’s windows, door handles or horn, as the police claim?