Pune car crash: It was Sassoon doctor's idea to swap juvenile's blood samples, police say

Both the teenager's father, realtor Vishal Agarwal, and the doctor have been arrested in related cases following the accident of 19 May

The Porsche car without the number plate in Pune on 21 May (photo: PTI)
The Porsche car without the number plate in Pune on 21 May (photo: PTI)


The father of the minor involved in the Porsche crash case and Dr. Ajay Taware of the Sassoon government hospital were constantly in touch after the accident in Kalyani Nagar, and it was the government doctor who first thought that the blood samples could be swapped, police claimed on 28 May.

Both the teenager's father, realtor Vishal Agarwal, and Dr. Taware have been arrested in related cases following the accident of 19 May where two IT professionals were killed when the car allegedly driven by the drunk 17-year-old crashed into their motorbike.

A senior police official said that following the accident, Dr. Taware and Vishal Agarwal exchanged more than a dozen calls.

Police have arrested Dr. Taware, head of the state-run hospital's forensic medicine department, chief medical officer Dr. Shrihari Halnor and staff member Atul Ghatkamble for allegedly throwing away the minor's blood samples, taken after the accident, and replacing them with the samples of another person's blood which had no traces of alcohol.

"Our focus is on two things: identifying whose blood samples were used to replace the juvenile's samples and determining the financial gain received or promised to Dr. Taware. It has come to light that Dr. Halnor, the CMO at the casualty section, and the third accused, Ghatkamble, received a total of Rs 3 lakh from Dr. Taware to change the blood samples," stated another senior police officer.

It was to be probed whether Dr. Taware gave them ₹3 lakh from his pocket or he had taken the money from someone else, the official said.

To change the blood samples was Dr. Taware's idea, he claimed. "It was unthinkable for everyone else that blood samples could be changed. It was Dr. Taware's idea." "Their (Agarwal and Taware) attitude was that money can buy anything," the official said. Police were going to invoke the Prevention of Corruption Act against the accused doctors, he added.

During the day, the three-member committee conducting an inquiry into the alleged manipulation of the blood samples visited the Sassoon hospital and also met police officials who are probing the case.

"We will examine the sequence of events after the accident. The probe will be conducted as per the rules, and a report will be submitted to the government," said Dr. Pallavi Sapale, dean of the Grant Medical College and J.J. group of hospitals who is heading the panel.

Sources said the committee members visited the casualty department and also understood the process of blood sample collection, its preservation and dispatch to the forensic science laboratory.

Elsewhere, Judicial Magistrate First Class A A Pande remanded builder Vishal Agarwal, the teenager's father, in police custody till May 31 in a case where he and his father Surendra Agarwal are accused of putting pressure on the family's driver to take blame for the accident to shield the boy.

Surendra Agarwal, the minor's grandfather, was already arrested in this case for allegedly kidnapping the driver and putting him in illegal confinement. On May 28, Magistrate Pande extended his police custody till May 31.

Vishal Agarwal (50) was earlier arrested under the Juvenile Justice Act for allegedly exposing the minor to danger by giving him a car.

Following Dr. Taware's arrest, a 2023 letter from local NCP MLA Sunil Tingre to Maharashtra medical education minister Hasan Mushrif, recommending that the doctor be given additional charge of medical superintendent, has surfaced.

In the letter dated December 26, 2023, Mr. Tingre said he knew Dr. Taware who had worked as superintendent and discharged his duties well during the COVID-19 pandemic. "I request you to kindly consider giving the additional charge of the medical superintendent to Dr. Taware," the letter stated.

The letter also had a handwritten note from Mr. Mushrif, directing the Sassoon Hospital's dean to give the additional charge to Dr. Taware.

Mr. Mushrif's note mentioned that, according to rules, a person of professor rank should be considered for the position, and the (then) medical superintendent did not fulfil the criteria.

On May 28, Mr. Tingre in a statement said that as he is an MLA, many people approach him for recommendation letters, and such letters issued by him always include a note that action should be taken according to the rules.

Questions were also raised after it emerged that Mr. Tingre had visited the Yerawada police station after the May 19 accident. Police admitted that he visited the station, but claimed it did not have any impact on the probe.

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