Shiv Sena lawmaker and state forest minister, Sanjay Rathod resigned from the Maharashtra cabinet on Sunday over the alleged connection to the death of a 23-year-old woman from the nomadic Banjara community in Pune.
Rathod is facing allegations of complicity in the death of Puja Chavhan, a TikTok star from the Beed district, who is suspected to have died in Pune on February 7 after she jumped from the first floor of a building, reported The Hindu.
Two days after her death a video had surfaced where two men were talking about Chavhan's death. The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has claimed that one of the men is Rathod. However, Rathod has denied the charge.
A legislator from Digras constituency, Rathod has been facing flak for three weeks. "There has been a lot of dirty politics over the issue of the woman's death, and I have quit the ministry so that the truth can come out. The matter was a plan to malign my image and he would help in the police investigation," Rathod said after submitting his resignation to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday.
Thackeray accepted his resignation and criticised the Opposition for banishing Rathod before the completion of an impartial probe.
Former chief minister and Leader of Opposition, Devendra Fadnavis, has hit out at the Maharashtra Police and Thackeray for mishandling the matter.
"The MVA (Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi) government has always believed that investigations must be conducted impartially, without regard to the position of the person. At the same time, the probe should not needlessly malign someone. Unfortunately, the Opposition wants the investigation to be conducted in his own way, without proper evidence, they were dogged on Rathod's resignation. We had ordered a probe the day we came to know of the incident," Thackeray said.
According to Thackeray, the deceased girl's family had written to him and said that no person must be needlessly defamed on mere suspicion. "If the girl's family has faith in the investigation, then why does the opposition lack faith in the Maharashtra Police?" he asked.
Fadnavis said the law and order situation in Maharashtra is deplorably adding, "Rathod's resignation has come too late."
"Despite so much evidence against Rathod, why has no FIR still been lodged against him? This case has shown the true colours of the present government," he said alleging that the case is being silenced and Rathod has the government's backing.
The BJP has demanded that the government investigate the negligence of the police officers allocated in the case and demand their suspension.