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Youth falls from fifth floor inside Mantralaya, dies

Friday, February 09, 2018
By Prashant Hamine. Photograph by Azad Shrivastav

Mantralaya, the seat of government power yesterday was once again stunned over the suspected suicide of 45 year-old Harshal Suresh Raote from the fifth floor into the Atrium. The incident happened around 6.30 pm as employees and staff were making their way out when passersby heard a loud thud on the atrium floor. According to senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, Ajit Pawar and Minister for School Education, Vinod Tawde, Raote a resident of Chembur was a convict, out on furlough and had come to Mantralaya with a plea to get his life sentence awarded to him in murder of his sister-in-law in 2003 lessened. He was brought dead to nearby St George Hospital.

The government and the police are tight-lipped about whether it was a suicide or an accidental fall. This is the second such incident in recent times, a couple of days ago Avinash Shete from Ahmednagar had unsuccessfully tried to immolate himself in front of the Mantralaya main gate. Couple of weeks ago a Dhule based farmer Dharma Patil consumed poison and later succumbed. As soon as the news spread like wildfire, Pawar along with Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council, Dhananjay Munde, Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, LoP and senior NCP MLA Jayant Patil and other leaders rushed to Mantralaya and met police officials to get information.

According to sources, Raote was serving life sentence at the state Open Jail at Paithan near Aurangabad and was in distress as the family and relatives had socially boycotted him. Speaking to newspersons later senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who had earlier spoken with Suresh Raote, father of Harshal. Pawar disclosed that his father informed that Harshal was out on parole for the period of a month from January 10. His parole was to get over on Saturday, February 10.  Pawar got the phone of Harshal which was in custody of police from where he contacted his father Suresh Raote.

From some of the documents taken in possession by the police from the person of Harshal Raote, they found Aadhaar Card, Pan Card and an Identity Card which showed him as a Para-Legal volunteer at Paithan Open Jail. They also recovered Rs 10,000 in cash from him. Though the reason of his visit to Mantralaya is not confirmed as yet, it is assumed he may have visited Mantralaya to meet officials from Law and Judicial department to seek reduction of one year of his conviction period.

Jail superintendent of Paithan open jail, Sachin Salve confirmed that Raote was convicted in murder of his sister-in-law, but stated that he was unaware  why Raote visited  Mantralaya yesterday. Additional Director General of Police (Prison) Bhushan Kumar Upadhyay when contacted confirmed that Harshal Raote was a prisoner, a life convict in Paithan open prison. “He (Harshal) was out on furlough from January 10 to February10 and  yesterday was the last date of his leave,” added Upadhyay.

Speaking to newspersons later, Minister for School Education Vinod Tawade stated that Raote was convicted in a murder case and was out on furlough. He noted, “It is still not clear whether he fell or jumped from the fifth floor and will be known after examining the CCTV footage.” He later appealed to the people to resolve their issues with the government through talks not by taking any extreme step.

Later reacting to the news, Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil remarked that Mantralaya of late has become a “Suicide Point”. He added that the government should look within as to why people are coming to Mantralaya to give up their lives.

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