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Pune Porsche Case: Driver Teen’s Grandfather Arrested, Questioned

Pune Porsche Case: Driver Teen’s Grandfather Arrested, Questioned

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NEW DELHI, May 25: Surendra Kumar Agarwal, the grandfather of the 17-year-old Pune Porsche driver who ran over two young software engineers killing them on the spot, was on Saturday arrested by the police for helping his builder son Vishal Agarwal to abscond and ‘kidnapping’ and putting pressure on the driver to take the accident blame.

Pune Police Commissioner Amitesh Kumar had earlier stated that an attempt was being made to frame a professional driver for the accident instead of the teenager. He added that soon after the accident, an attempt was made to switch drivers after the crash so that the minor would not land in trouble.

“It is true that at the start the driver had said that he was driving the car. We are investigating this part and also under whose pressure the driver made that statement we are investigating it. Effort was made to change the driver during that period. We are investigating this also,” Kumar had said during a press conference.

The Pune Police Commissioner refuted reports that the car was being handled by the driver and said they have video footage to prove that the 17-year-old was driving the luxury car.

Sources said Surendra Kumar and son Vishal Agarwal had allegedly kidnapped the driver and held him. “They put pressure on him to accept the responsibility of the accident by offering him a bungalow.” The sources further said the driver’s mobile phone was taken away and kept with the father-son duo for two days. After that the driver called his wife and had informed her about the incident. The wife, in turn, informed the police and a case was registered against them. The driver was missing for two days after the accident, a source added.

Surendra Agarwal was on Thursday questioned by the crime branch after he stood surety for the teenager’s bail and assured the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) that the minor would mend his ways.

In his statement to police, the 42-year-old driver has said soon after the incident, he received a call from the teen’s grandfather. “He first called me up and shouted at me over the phone. Then, he forcibly took me to their bungalow in their BMW car,” the driver has said. The teen’s father and his grandfather snatched his mobile phone, he has said. The driver was confined to the bungalow. “I was told to take the blame. He told me, ‘If you talk to anyone about this, remember…’,” the driver has said.

The teen’s grandfather has now been arrested under charges of wrongful confinement, kidnapping and criminal intimidation. He was produced in court on Saturday where his lawyer claimed he was in Delhi when the accident took place. He has been remanded in custody till May 28. The investigating officer has said the driver’s phone was yet to be recovered and the teen’s grandfather needs to be questioned. Prashant Patil, the teen’s counsel, said his grandfather has cooperated with police and appears for questioning whenever he was called.

The Pune Police Commissioner told the media that the driver was promised a cash reward if he told the police that he was behind the wheel at the time of the accident. “Pressure was created on him. After the accident, the driver was questioned at the police station. When the questioning was over, he wanted to go home, but he (the teen’s grandfather) forcibly took him to their home, snatched his phone and confined him,” the top cop said.

The teen driver, said to be speeding at 200 km per hour after drinking heavily, has been sent to an observation home till June 5 as the Juvenile Justice Board considers the police plea for permission to try him as an adult. The teen’s father, a prominent realtor, has been arrested under sections of the Juvenile Justice Act.

As allegations emerged that the influential family had tried to bend legal processes to shield the teen, an underworld link came to the fore. The teen’s grandfather is an accused in an attempt to murder case in connection with a 2009 attack on a Shiv Sena corporator.

Surendra Kumar was named in a shootout case in Pune that was registered at the Bund Garden police station and later transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). According to the CBI, which has charge-sheeted the boy’s grandfather, he allegedly contracted Chhota Rajan in 2009 to execute Shiv Sena corporator Ajay Bhosale.

According to the CBI chargesheet filed in the case, the boy’s grandfather was locked in a property dispute with his brother and had allegedly contacted Chhota Rajan to mediate. The gangster got in touch with Sena corporator Ajay Bhosale, who knew the brother. But Mr Bhosale was busy with the Assembly polls and refused to intervene. The boy’s grandfather suspected that the Sena leader was backing his brother and allegedly asked Chhota Rajan to bump him off, the CBI chargesheet said. Mr Bhosale’s car was fired at near Pune’s Koregaon Park, but the bullet missed him and hit his driver instead, injuring him.

Mr Bhosale, now with the Eknath Shinde-led Sena, said his ‘supari’ was given by the builder, who is not being named because the accused in the Porsche case is a minor. The grandfather was also listed as an accused in the chargesheet, but not arrested. The attempt to murder case is now part of a bunch of cases against Chhota Rajan pending before a Mumbai CBI court.

(Manas Dasgupta)



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