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Pune Porsche Case: Local MLA had Ordered for Change of Minor’s Blood Samples

Pune Porsche Case: Local MLA had Ordered for Change of Minor’s Blood Samples

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, May 29: Lending credence to the Congress allegation of political meddling in the Pune Porsche horrific crash killing two budding software engineers by a drunken minor, sources on Wednesday confirmed that the blood samples of the minor was ordered to be destroyed by the Nationalist Congress Party (Ajit Pawar faction) local MLA Sunil Tingre who was in close contacts with the minor’s builder father Vishal Agarwal.

The dean of the Pune’s Sassoon Hospital, where the minor’s blood sample was collected but another sample sent to the forensic laboratory, has claimed that one of the doctors accused of replacing the blood samples of the teenager behind the Porsche accident had been made the head of the forensic department at the insistence of a state minister and local MLA. Mr Tingre was also accused of visiting the Yerwada police station after the crash when the minor was held by the police.

The source said it was the MLA who recommended Dr Tawade for the top job at the premier medical institution in Pune, despite knowing about his sketchy past. While the Maharashtra government has decided to take strict action against the hospital employees involved in tampering with the evidence, Dr Tawade has claimed that it was Tingre who called him to switch the teenager’s blood samples, the source added.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, the hospital’s dean, Vinayak Kale, said Maharashtra Medical Education Minister Hasan Mushrif and Mr Tingre had written a letter and asked for Dr Ajay Tawade to be made the head of Sassoon Hospital’s Forensic Medicine Department. Both Mr Mushrif and the MLA are from the Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP which is in power in Maharashtra in an alliance with the BJP and the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena.

But within hours after the press conference, Dr Kale was sent on compulsory leave by the Maharashtra government for “failing to take the case seriously” and “not taking proper decisions” as the dean. Mr Tawade and Dr Shrihari Harnor, the Chief Medical Officer of Sassoon Hospital, had been arrested on Monday by the Pune Crime Branch for allegedly helping replace the teenager’s blood samples with those of a doctor to ensure that no alcohol was detected in them. A peon, Atul Ghatkamble, who acted as the middleman and allegedly collected the ₹ 3 lakh bribe meant for the two doctors from the realtor’s family, was also taken into custody.

Dr Kale said Dr Tawade and Mr Ghatkamble have been suspended while the contract of Dr Harnor has been terminated. “The committee formed for the investigation at the state level conducted the probe for the whole day yesterday (Tuesday). I have taken action at my level,” he said. The committee, set up by the Maharashtra Government to probe the alleged manipulation of the blood sample, is chaired by Dr Pallavi Sapale, the dean of Grant Medical College and JJ group of hospitals.

The Congress’ Maharashtra President, Nana Patole, had alleged on Tuesday that an MLA’s son was involved in the accident and the legislator was in touch with the police after the crash and had also spoken to the doctors and asked them to change the blood samples. Mr Patole had claimed that there is a nexus between the police, politicians and the rich and influential people in the state.

Breaking his silence on the accident, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had said on Tuesday that he has been in touch with the Pune police commissioner since day one and that the law is equal for all. “I have been in touch with the Pune police commissioner since day one. I have said right from the beginning that, irrespective of how influential the person is, there should be no discrimination. No matter how rich or poor a person is, the law is equal for all and no one will be spared. I have ordered strict action,” he had said.

It has also come to light that the father of the teenager, Vishal Agarwal who is a prominent builder in Pune, had communicated with Dr Tawade at least 14 times on May 19. The exchanges included WhatsApp, FaceTime, and regular calls. Local MLA Sunil Tingre, whose name has repeatedly come up in connection with the accident from Day 1, received “45 missed calls” from Vishal Agarwal on the night of May 19, Pune Police source said.

Not only have links between local MLA Sunil Tingre and Agarwal surfaced, but it seems the NCP leader is also connected to Sassoon Hospital’s Dr Ajay Tawade, who was arrested for allegedly switching the minor’s blood samples. According to a statement issued by him a day after the accident on May 20, it is already established that Tingre was present at the Yerwada police station till 6 am. He has, however, denied that he tried to put pressure on the police, but now his party has also asked him to provide an explanation in the matter.

A police source said Tingre received 45 missed calls between 2.30 am and 3.45 am on May 19 night, but they all apparently went unanswered as he was asleep. However, Agarwal later rushed to the MLA’s house to pick him up when failed to answer his calls, the source said.

Top NCP (Ajit Pawar) sources said Tingre had been asked to clarify his stance before the media. After his name has repeatedly emerged in the case, party sources said he has been asked to provide an explanation about the new evidence.  Accordingly, the MLA is likely to hold a press conference in Pune in a day or two.

The police have alleged that there has been a blatant attempt at a cover-up by the teenager’s family in the case. First, the teenager’s blood samples were allegedly thrown into a dustbin and replaced with another person’s samples on the directions of Dr Tawade. Second, the boy’s grandfather was arrested for allegedly putting pressure on the family driver to take the blame in the accident. Third, two police officials were suspended on May 24 for delayed reporting of the car crash and dereliction of duty. The police have also added IPC sections pertaining to forgery and evidence destruction in the case.

Mr Tingre’s presence on the night of the incident only raises more questions with regard to what transpired immediately after the incident and how the police handled the case in the crucial hours.

The crash had taken place around 2.15 am on May 19, when the 17-year-old, who had been drinking with his friends in two pubs in Pune to celebrate his Class 12 results, knocked down the two 24-year-old IT professionals in the Kalyani Nagar area. He was driving a ₹ 2.5-crore Porsche at over 150 kmph. Aneesh Awadhiya, who was riding the bike, was sent flying and hit a parked car, while Ashwini Koshta – who was riding pillion – was flung 20 feet into the air. Both of them died on the spot.




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