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CBI to probe former Mumbai scribe's suicide

CBI to probe former Mumbai scribes suicide

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has asked the CBI to probe the suicide of senior journalist Charudatta Deshpande last year, an official said here Friday.

Acceding to requests from various quarters, including The Press Club of Mumbai, Home Minister R.R. Patil transferred the investigations to the central agency late Thursday.

The Press Club and family members of late Deshpande had written separate letters to Patil urging that the probe into charges of abetment of suicide against some Tata Steel officials had run aground and were deliberately not being pursued by police.

Deshpande, a senior journalist and a public relations executive with Tata Steel, had committed suicide June 28, 2013.

In a related recent development, the Tata Steel board has offered monetary compensation to Deshpande's widow, Nivedita, which the family is considering.

An FIR was lodged under Section 306 of the IPC on a complaint by a former editor of the Forbes magazine charging Prabhat Sharma, the deputy corporate communications manager at Tata Steel, and others of allegedly abetting the suicide.

Last week, at an anniversary commemoration meeting held at The Press Club, over three dozen senior journalists signed a petition to Patil seeking transfer of the case to the CBI.

In subsequent meetings last week, a Press Club delegation told Patil that despite the Vasai sessions court rejecting Sharma's anticipatory bail plea, police had failed to take him into custody for interrogation.

Later, Sharma withdrew his bail application on grounds that police would not arrest him, Patil was informed.

The police were neither aware of an internal inquiry into Deshpande's death nor did they make any attempt to secure the internal probe report.

They were ignorant of the action taken by Tata Steel against two senior officials - vice president Partha Sengupta who was asked to quit and Sharma was transferred from the corporate communications department, the delegation said.

Also, despite an earlier commitment, the company did not make the findings of its own internal probe public, the delegation told Patil.

The mediapersons also gave a psychological autopsy, conducted by well-known expert Harish Shetty, to Patil which proved that months of harassment and mental torture prompted Deshpande to take the extreme step. This report also ruled out clinical or other forms of depression as the reason.

"Charudatta Deshpande did not suffer from depression or any serious mental illness before his demise. He appeared to be troubled by stressors from his last employment and felt threatened weeks and months before his death," Shetty's psychological autopsy report said.

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