Human Rights Activist Alleges Vishwajeet’s role in the cover-up of the Police Custodial Death of Babita Gawde

In our first part of our investigations into the alleged police custodial death of Babita Gawde, we pieced together the starling facts surrounding the death of Babita Gawde. In this part GoaChronicle.com brings to you an insight  into the allegations made against Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane in the cover-up of this custodial death as alleged by Human Rights Activist Jowett D’Souza, complaint letters of which were filed to NHRC and NWC and details of which are also going be a part of the affidavit being filed in the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court…

GoaChronicle.com through its sources in National Human Rights Commission and National Women’s Commission has managed to get in its possession copies of the Complaint Letter sent by Human Rights Activist Jowett D’Souza.

The complaint letter titled ‘Petition for false arrest, torture, assault leading to death in Police Custody and preparing false and incorrect records as Post Mortem records by the Police and Doctors on the Custodial Death of Babita Gawde’, which was sent by a India Post on 09/08/2011 states, “Conduct an inquiry in the custodial death of Babita Gawde and bring the accused police officers involved in the custodial death and trying to cover-up as natural death with the help of Doctors and Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) and with the blessings of the Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane.”

In both the letters the petitioner categorically mentions that an inquiry must be conducted to probe the involvement of the Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane in the cover-up.

When GoaChronicle.com spoke to Jowett D’Souza on his complaint letters sent to NHRC and NWC in which he accused the Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane of being involved in the cover-up, he said, “Vishwajeet Rane is involved in the cover-up of the police-custodial death of Babita Gawde. And I will be filling a affidavit in the High Court on this shortly as part of my on-going case in Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court on Babita Gawde. I have sent petitions to the NHRC and NWC and I have received a response letter from NHRC saying that they will be investigating the matter.” Copy of the NHRC letter is in GoaChronicle.com possession.

In a letter dated 12/9/2011, the NHRC has taken cognizance of the complaint filed by Jowett D’Souza and asked DG (I) to collect facts and submit a report.

Jowett D’Souza further added that he believes that the Health Minister in order to protect Police Inspector Harish Madkaikar who is known to be a close friend has moved the government machinery to ensure that the death of Babita Gawde be declared as Natural Death and not a Custody Death.

Call to Police Department Officers
Between 07/03/2011 and 08/03/2011, call records details which will be presented in court during the filing of the affidavit alleges that Vishwajeet Rane has made eleven calls to SP-North Goa Arvind Gawas and eight calls to Harish Madkaikar Police Inspector Bicholim Police Station.

Police Inspector Harish Madkaikar statements to the SDM – 01/04/2011
1.Rajani alias Babita was brought to the police station at 6.30 am and she was interrogated.

2.At 9.20 am she was arrested as the prime accused in the murder case of Babi Mote.

3.In the night of 04/03/2011 Rajani was further interrogated to get the sequence of event of the murder.

4.On 05/03/2011 Rajani was further interrogated/questioned by me to get further details of the crime.

Police Constables statements on Police Inspector Interrogation & Contradictions
According to Sneha Shamsundar Gawas, LPC Buckle No 4042 in her statement to the SDM, she says the accused Rajani Gawde was brought to Police Station at 7.00 am on 04/03/2011. Sneha Gawas is the constable who accompanied PI Madkaikar to the scene of the offence where Rajani Gawde was present as per the intimation of the Police Constable (Robin) Vishnu Gawas. Strangely the contradiction is that PI Madkaikar says Rajani Gawde was brought to the police station at 6.30 am, police constable present during the pick-up of Rajani Gawde says 7.00 am. Sneha Gawas further states that at 11 am on the 05/03/2011 PI Madkaikar interrogates Rajani Gawde.

According to Neeta Hemant Kotkar, LPC Buckle No 5224 in her statement to SDM, she makes some very important points. Firstly, that the fit for lock up certificate was issued by Dr Medha Salkar of PHC, Bicholim. Secondly, Rajani Gawde was once again interrogated at 5pm by PI Madkaikar on 05/03/2011. Thirdly, that on 06/03/2011 between 1pm and 5pm Rajani Gawde was not interrogated by PI Madkaikar as he was on law and order duty (Bandobast) at Sanquelim.

But Mamta Suryaji Desai, LPC Buckle No 6591 in her statement to the SDM says that on 06/03/2011 that PI Madkaikar questioned Rajani Gawde in his office at 10 am for about half an hour.

Call to Forensic Department
Call records details in the possession of Human Rights activist made before the post-mortem of Babita Gawde also indicate that the Health Minister has made calls to the Dr Edmundo Rodrigues – who was one of doctors’ in-charge of the post-mortem of Babita Gawde.

According to the Department of Forensic Medicine, GMC, a report conducted by Dr Edmundo Rodrigues and Dr Manohar Kantak state that the deceased Rajani Gawde died due to left pleural effusion with collapse and consolidation of lungs – a natural cause. And it also notice injuries caused to the right and left knee of the deceased by a blunt object but not enough to cause death.

The Panchnama report in front of the SDM witnesses Laxman Jairam Malwankar and Sandhya Dessai very clearly states that there is no injury marks found on the body of Rajani Gawde.

But in the enquiry report on the Custodial Death by Deputy Collector and SDM N M Gad, it states that in the post-mortem report it is reported that two injuries on the knees of Rajani Gawde are caused by blunt force and these injuries are of 05-10 days duration before the death and the injuries are not sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. Though the report does not have an official date of commencement or which authority it has been sent to within its contents it indicates that SDM commenced his enquiry on 07/03/2011.

The report also states that Rajani Gawde was arrested by the Bicholim police on 04/03/2011.

The report further states that the case of death as per Autopsy reports is due to left pleural effusion with collapse and consolidation of lungs – A natural clause.

It also mentions Dr SY Talwar of Bicholim PHC. In his statement Dr Talwar has deposed that he had examined Rajani Gawde and observed that the patient was having difficulty manual breathing i.e. her accessory respiratory muscles were involved in breathing. The doctor further deposed that she was suffering from pneumonia. And that pneumonia may not have come to her due to some physical torture.

It also mentions that Dr Medha Salkar when questioned stated that the pleural cavity would have been developed subsequently after her examination and collection of fluid in the pleural cavity would be due to some infection.

But here are the contradictions to the SDM enquiry report –

In another letter to the Medical Officer SY Talwar of Bicholim PHC on 19/4/2011, with regards the inquiry of the custodial death of Rajani Gawde, she says,

“I have examined Rajani Gawde on 04/03/2011 and not 04/11/2011 as stated in the letter. On that day, the respiratory system, was examined by me was clear and there was no fluid collection of/in pleural cavity. In case of pneumonia, if the disease process was taking place the signs and symptoms would have occurred over a period of seven days either in the first half or in the later half i.e. 48-72 hours in a normal person. The procedure followed by me in issuing the fit for lock certificate was proper taking all the vital and clinical parameters into account. I hope you will forward this explanation to the Deputy Collector at the earliest.”


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