Fadnavis announces SIT probe into death of Sushant’s former talent manager

BJP and Balasahebachi Shiv Sena MLAs protest against Maha Vikas Aghadi during the Winter Session of Assembly at Vidhan Bhawan in Nagpur, Thursday, Dec 22, 2022.

BJP and Balasahebachi Shiv Sena MLAs protest against Maha Vikas Aghadi during the Winter Session of Assembly at Vidhan Bhawan in Nagpur, Thursday, Dec 22, 2022.
| Photo Credit: PTI

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday announced a Special Investigation Team probe into the death of Disha Salian, a talent manager who had worked with late Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

The BJP and the Eknath Shinde-led Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena have been linking the name of Aaditya Thackeray, former Minister and son of Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Uddhav Thackeray, with the case.

Ms. Salian died in June 2020 after falling off the 14th floor of a residential building in Mumbai’s Malad area. Six days later, 34-year-old Mr. Rajput was found hanging in his Bandra home.

“Nobody will be targeted in this case. The probe will be free and fair and will take place on basis of new evidence,” said Mr. Fadnavis in the Vidhan Sabha on Thursday during the Winter session of the State Legislature.

Hitting out at the Shinde-Fadnavis government, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ajit Pawar said that it was deliberately trying to “create confusion” despite the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) making it clear this November that Ms. Salian’s death had been an accident.

Responding to Mr. Pawar, Mr. Fadnavis said: “The Disha Salian case was investigated by the Mumbai police. It never went to the CBI and hence, there was no closure in it. The Sushant Singh Rajput case had been probed by the CBI.”

BJP MLA Nitesh Rane demanded a narco test on Mr. Aaditya Thackeray. “Whenever this case come up, Aaditya Thackeray’s name crops up. There are so many leaders in Maharashtra, but their names do not come up. This indicates that something is fishy,” said Mr. Rane, alleging that the CCTV footage in the Disha Salian case was “missing” while the post-mortem was ‘hidden.’

The Rane kin, sworn political adversaries of the Thackeray family, have been repeatedly targeting Mr. Aaditya Thackeray in connection with the case with Union Minister Narayan Rane – Mr. Nitesh’s father – questioning the circumstances surrounding Ms. Salian’s death, at a press conference in February this year, while hinting that a Minister in the then-ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress “had a hand” in her death.

The House witnessed five adjournments as the ruling BJP-Eknath Shinde faction MLAs clamouring for a fresh probe into the case, alleging that agencies had been under pressure in the former Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government.

Speaking to reporters in the Assembly complex, Mr. Aaditya Thackeray said: “They are scared of a 32-year-old youth. Hence, they are doing their level best to defame me. This is the first time I’m seeing that the ruling party is rushing to the Well of the House and forcing repeated adjournments while the presiding officer is not letting the Opposition speak at all.”

Both Mr. Thackeray and Mr. Pawar said the ruling parties were demanding a re-investigation in order to divert attention from the Opposition MVA’s demand for resignation of CM Shinde for his alleged involvement in the Nagpur Improvement Trust land scam, as well as for Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s removal for his “insulting” remarks on Maharashtra’s great leaders.

Mr. Pawar further said that an SIT probe had been announced despite repeated pleas by Disha Salian’s parents not to rake up the issue of their daughter’s death for cheap political gain.

“The ruling party leaders are deliberately causing adjournments in the House. Important issues are being put on the backburner by reopening a case whose verdict has already been given by the CBI – an agency which is in the hands of the BJP-ruled Centre. Do they [BJP] have no faith in the CBI’s report? Disha’s parents have appealed in front of the media and even approached the President to say that no politician or party use this case for political mileage. Yet, the ruling Maharashtra government is doing it. This is lethal for democracy,” said Mr. Pawar.

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