News headlines

With input and pics from Rons Bantwal & Times of India, Mumbai

MUMBAI, Aug 31: Mystery surrounds the death of assistant police commissioner Vinod Bhat of the anti-terrorism squad, who died on the railway tracks between Dadar and Matunga late on Monday night.

54-year-old Vinod Bhat was an officer belonging to North Kanara, Officer of batch 1972-74.
He used to deliver lectures on MCOCCA and TADA in Maharashtra Police Academy and was also on the post of Deputy Director of the Academy

Received three awards by the President, Sword of Honour, Gallantry Award and President Medal
Completed police service of 34 years and his tenure was about to end in 2008

he is survived by his wife and daughter who is a dentist Father in law was also an ACP

Bhat, was known to be an upright officer held in high esteem by his colleagues. A shockwave swept through city police circles as news of Bhat's unnatural death spread.

A large number of officers and men attended his funeral at the Shivaji Park crematorium where he was cremated with full state honours. The Dadar railway police have registered a case of accidental death. Sources in the city police suspect that it was a case of suicide.

"Bhat was staying at Maimoon Apartments near Kirti College, Dadar. He had an official vehicle and there was no need for him to take a train from Dadar station. The spot where he was hit by a speeding train is several metres away from the platform.

If it was an accident then it means that he was crossing the track at the spot where the so-called accident took place. But there was no earthly reason for him to be on the tracks. Obviously, he threw himself before a speeding train," an assistant commissioner said.

Around 9 pm, Bhat reportedly asked the driver of his official vehicle to drop him at Tilak Bridge in Dadar. Before alighting from the car, he handed over all his personal effects except his identity card to his driver and asked him to give them to his wife.

"This indicated that he was planning to end his life on the tracks," another official said.

A city lawyer close to him said ever since Bhat was sent from the anti-corruption bureau to the ATS on deputation to join the team probing the July 11 serial bomb blasts in suburban trains he was under tremendous pressure.

"During the course of investigation, a senior official asked him to do things which went against his conscience. He was an upright officer who would never bend the rules," a former police officer close to him alleged.

However, K P Raghuvanshi, chief of the ATS, denied that Bhat was asked to do anything illegal. "The railway police are investigating his death and I do not want to say anything," he added.

Apart from the pressure under which he was working in the ATS, Bhat was also concerned about a case registered against his wife, Seema. She was a member of a police housing scheme and certain allegations were levelled against her.

Sources said she had nothing to do with the case, which pertained to 1989, but the Santa Cruz police was under pressure from certain people to arrest her.

In the first week of August, an FIR was lodged against 14 people, including Seema Bhat, at Santa Cruz police station, additional commissioner Bipin Bihari told TOI on Tuesday.

One M Doshi of Malad was arrested in the case and more arrests were likely. A close relative of the Bhats said Vinod Bhat "was a brave man. We are all in a state of shock and do not know what happened".


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