A 22-year-old TikTok star Pooja Chavan allegedly committed suicide by jumping off the Heaven Park building in Pune’s Wanawadi area on February 8. The Maharashtra police, probing the case, filed an accidental case and dismissed anything suspicious in the matter.
While the Maharashtra police was all set to write off the case, terming it an accidental death case, six days after the suicide of the young TikTok celebrity, Shiv Sena leader and Forest Minister Sanjay Rathod name surfaced in connection with the case.
Many audio clips allegedly linked to Pooja Chavan’s death, moreover, alluding to the involvement of the state minister, went viral on social media, following which, many BJP leaders namely Devendra Fadnavis, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Kirit Somaiya, demanded a detailed inquiry in the case. Somaiya also demanded that Rathod be sacked from the Cabinet and arrested immediately.
According to reports, the allegations on the Uddhav Thackeray’s cabinet minister was first levelled by BJP leader Chitra Wagh. Actually, after the death of the TikTok star, who hailed from the temple town of Parli Vaijnath in Beed district, audio clips of her purported conservation with two persons went viral.
In one of the viral audio clips, one person is heard making some suggestions to suppress a case. The person also issues instructions in Marathi translated as: “in any case, take possession of laptops and mobiles, this issue should not be escalated”.
Hinting that the voice in the purported audio clip was that of the Shiv Sena leader, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Friday, “The voice in the clip is very easily recognisable by all, and police should also reveal whose voice is there in that clip which is being hidden by the police,” said the BJP leader adding that his office received these 12 clips of conversation between two persons linked to the woman’s death, and he had forwarded them to the Director-General of Police.
बीड जिल्ह्यातील युवती पूजा चव्हाण हिच्या कथित आत्महत्याप्रकरणी, तसेच या प्रकरणात समाजमाध्यमांत व्हायरल होत असलेल्या ऑडिओ क्लिप्सच्या अनुषंगाने सर्वंकष चौकशी करण्यात यावी, याबाबत पोलिस महासंचालकांना पाठविलेले पत्र.. pic.twitter.com/Gkpf5aNTbK— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) February 12, 2021
Moreover, some social media posts claimed that Pooja Chavan was in a relationship with the Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Rathod.
Sanjay Dulichand Rathod is a Shiv Sena politician from Yavatmal district of Maharashtra. He was appointed as Minister of Forest, Disaster Management, Relief and Rehabilitation in Uddhav Thackeray’s cabinet in 2019. In 2020, he was appointed as the Guardian Minister for Yavatmal district. His win in the 2014 election made him a four-time Shiv Sena MLA from Yavatmal. Sanjay Rathod is a famous leader of the Banjara community.
After the suicide case of the TikTok, celebrity snowballed into a political row in Maharastra, with the National Commission for Women (NCW) also taking cognisance of the case and seeking a report on the death of Pooja Chavan from the Maharashtra Director General of Police (DGP), Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray stepped in, confirming that an enquiry is underway and the truth will surface after the probe is over.
“We have been hearing about allegations from different quarters. We have taken note of everything and given directions for an investigation into the matter. However, attempts to destroy careers of individuals, which had been made in some past cases, will not be allowed in this case,” Thackeray said, adding that action would be taken as per the law.
Speaking on the allegations meted out at their party leader, the Shiv Sena motormouth leader Sanjay Raut also said on Sunday: “Here have been instances of character assassination in politics but “truth and law” will prevail in this case. “Law will prevail and not what the Opposition wants in this case. Truth will always prevail. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has already said that the case was being probed,” he said.
Following the political uproar, the Wanawadi Police, which was close to shutting the case, are now scrutinising Chavan’s social media accounts, the audio-messages, along with her phone logs to ascertain the sequent of events and the cause behind her alleged suicide.
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena leader who has been named in the case is said to be absconding ever since his name appeared in the case. His phone has also been reportedly switched off since then.