The mystery behind the missing bullet-proof jacket of slain Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare took a new turn on Wednesday with a sweeper of a government hospital in Mumbai claiming that he had disposed it of long ago.
The statement of Dinesh Lalji Gatar to a magistrate comes more than a year after Karkare and two other senior police officers were killed by Pakistani terrorists during the terror strike on Mumbai.
"On the night of November 27, after Karkare's body was brought to JJ Hospital for autopsy, I had mistakenly put the jacket along with bio-medical and non-medical waste in polythene bags, which was sent to the Deonar dumping ground for disposal," the sweeper said in the statement.
The statement evoked a sharp reaction from Kavita Karkare, wife of the slain officer, who said, "This theory had cropped up now because the government is under pressure. I have lost all hope of getting fair justice in this case. I do not believe in this. The government is under pressure and hence this statement has come at a late juncture".
The sweeper's statement comes in the wake of a case filed by a social activist before a magistrate seeking probe into the missing jacket.
The 35-year-old sweeper said that on November 27, 2008, he had come across a jacket which he believed to be that of Karkare, while cleaning the operation theatre of the hospital. He said he had put the jacket in a bag containing non-medical waste.
Earlier, when the government had ordered a probe into the missing jacket, the police had gone to Deonar grounds to look for the jacket but could not find it.
"The mystery has been solved although the jacket has not been found. It is highly improbable that the jacket will be recovered as it must have been disposed of," said a police officer.
Y P Singh, the lawyer of social activist Santosh Daundkar, who had lodged a complaint with a magistrate, said, "This was expected. The line of investigation now should be who will benefit from the missing jacket and the missing file of documents empowering police to buy such defective jackets."
"Now, a year after the incident, a sweeper claiming that he had disposed it of despite knowing that it was Karkare's jacket, is definitely surprising," said Singh.
Daundkar had filed a complaint before a magistrate urging him to order a probe into the missing jacket. The magistrate had ordered the JJ Marg police to file an FIR.
As the sweeper is the prime witness in the case, his statement was recorded by the magistrate.