A minister in Maharashtra whose name has surfaced in connection with the death by suicide of a young woman has resigned from the government.
Shiv Sena politician and Forest Minister Sanjay Rathod submitted his resignation to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday after the opposition BJP sought to link him to the death of a 23-year-old woman in Pune.
Pooja Chavan, a native of Beed District, had been living in Pune with her brother and his friends and pursuing an English-speaking course. The police said she died by suicide on February 8.
Two days after her death, an audio clip surfaced on social media in which two men can be heard talking about her. The BJP claimed one of the men in the clip was Rathod.
The Shiv Sena leader has denied the charge. The family is yet to file a complaint.
“I have submitted my resignation to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Since I have been accused of being linked to the woman’s death, maligned, I don’t think I should continue on this post… I will appeal [to the authorities] that a swift investigation should be conducted in this matter so that the truth comes out,” Rathod said.
“Minister with serious allegations in Pooja Chavan suicide case should resign!” the BJP’s Maharashtra unit said in a tweet last week. “The BJP protested against this by burning a statue of Sanjay Rathore in Beed.”
Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis criticised the government over the death.
“There is ample evidence against Sanjay Rathod but nothing is happening. If media reports had not come out, nothing would have happened. Are we heading towards a banana republic? The police are under pressure. First, there has to be an investigation on the police itself,” Fadnavis said last week.
The BJP’s women’s wing also staged a protest against Rathod last week.