Sanjay Fadnavis, a cousin of the chief minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, made a late-night call to threaten an advocate who had been working to obtain information regarding the mysterious death of the judge BH Loya.
At close to 1 am on the intervening night between 5 and 6 March, Fadnavis called the advocate and activist Abhiyan Barahate. During the call, which lasted for nearly two minutes, Fadnavis told Barahate that he had come to know of the “big work” the advocate had been doing recently. Fadnavis then told Barahate that “we are coming in even in 2019,” and warned him to not “complain” later when he is “picked up by the police,” thrown “behind bars” and “gets fucked in the ass.” Sanjay is the son of the chief minister’s paternal uncle. He is known to be politically active on behalf of his cousin in Nagpur.
On 6 March, Barahate sent a written complaint to the police commissioner of Nagpur about the “criminal intimidation in filthy language” by Fadnavis. Barahate explains in his letter to the commissioner that he had met Fadnavis during the 2014 assembly elections in the state, while the latter had been campaigning for his cousin, Devendra. According to Barahate’s letter, the two exchanged numbers, and subsequently met on various occasions, but had not been in touch for at least the past year. Barahate added that he was “deliberately keeping distance” from those affiliated with the Bharatiya Janata Party because he had begun working with Satish Uke, a lawyer and activist for whom he began appearing before various government authorities and organisations. He further wrote that he had been helping the lawyer-activist amass information regarding the mysterious death of the judge BH Loya, via Right to Information (RTI) applications. Barahate has represented Uke in a number of cases in the Bombay High Court. In light of the threatening call from the chief minister’s brother, he also filed an application with the Bombay High Court to withdraw the vakalatnama filed in one of these cases.
Uke has been working to gather information and documents pertaining to Judge Loya’s death for a few years now. At the time of his death, Loya was hearing the case regarding the allegedly staged killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, in which the prime accused was Amit Shah.
Barahate writes in his letter that he “applied for information” under the RTI Act for Uke in “various government offices regarding the suspicious death” of Judge Loya. “Prior to 5.03.2018, I received bulky information in RTI fir Adv. Uke in Judge Loya issue,” Barahate writes. “On 5.03.2018, I, alongwith Adv. Uke visited the Office of Protocol Dept., Dist. Collector Office Nagpur to get information about the protocol given to Mr Amit Shah ( B.J.P. National President ) for his Nagpur visit dated 04.03.2018.” Barahate further states that he received the information the same day.