PONDA: An assistant geologist with the Mines Department, who was recently placed under suspension, reportedly committed suicide at his house in Warkhande-Ponda in the wee hours of Friday. The body of Dattatraya Bhave (54) was found hanging from a dupatta, which was tied to a metal pipe in a shed on the verandah on the first floor of the house. Police said his wife Mamata noticed the lifeless body of Bhave hanging from a metal pipe at about 7.15 am and raised an alarm. Neighbours rushed to the house and informed police.
justify; ">Recording statements of family members, police learnt that Bhave along with his family had visited their ancestral house in Valpoi for Ganesh Chaturthi on Wednesday and had returned the same evening. His wife reportedly told police she noticed Bhave was awake at about 4 a.m. and asked him if anything was troubling him but he didn’t say much, so Mamata went back to sleep.
Ponda Deputy Collector Johnson Fernandes, who is conducting a magisterial inquiry into the incident, told Herald: “Family members have claimed the deceased was feeling mentally tortured after his suspension.” Asked if that was the only theory being inquired into, and whether any financial, family or professional reasons could be the cause for Bhave taking the extreme step, and whether it was confirmed that it had been suicide, Fernandes said: “We are probing various angles, including that of stress-related issues and whether his suspension was the cause or whether the stress was forced upon him for other reasons,” said Fernandes.
When asked if police had found any suicide note to indicate a motive for the extreme step, Fernandes said: “Police searched the entire house but could not find any suicide note.”
The body was later sent for an autopsy at the Goa Medical College Hospital, Bambolim. The post-mortem report states the death was due to hanging and could have occurred between 4.30 a.m. and 6.45 a.m.
Bhave was among the six officials who had been suspended on September 7, following the Shah Commission Report into mining irregularities in the state. The suspended officials had been directed to report at the South Goa Collector's office in Margao. News of the death of the assistant geologist spread across the taluka and a number of relatives, friends and colleagues visited the house and expressed shock over the incident.
Family members and friends claimed Bhave was harassed and humiliated following his suspension, compelling him to take the extreme step of ending his life.
“Dattatraya was a gentleman and he is innocent. An innocent person cannot tolerate such action (suspension) and he could not bear the humiliation after he was suspended in the mining irregularities,” said a close friend, Mahesh Savordekar.
Responding to claims by family members and friends that Bhave was innocent in the mining irregularities, Ponda legislator Lavoo Mamledar replied: “I can’t say whether he is innocent or not. But the government should complete its inquiry into the illegal mining issue as fast as possible and punish those involved in the irregularities.”
Later in the evening former Canacona legislator Vijai Poi Khot visited the house and offered condolences to the bereaved family. Bhave is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. The last rites were held at a crematorium in Ponda.
‘Suspension not punishment’
PANJIM: Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, reacting to the incident, said: “I am pained at the loss of officers. Suspension does not mean punishment. We have kept these officers away because they should not be tampering with the evidence."
Will file FIR against CM: Cong
Congress leader Jitendra Deshprabhu said he would file an FIR (first information report) against Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, Director of Mines and Geology Prasanna Acharya and Principal Secretary Rajani Kant Verma for “abetting the suicide of Bhave” as “some officials have been made scapegoats by Parrikar while his people are being allowed to get away scot-free.”