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MNS activist kills self; party links it to ED notice to chief Raj Thackeray

Enforcement Directorate,Pravin chowgule, MNS, Raj Thackeray
Image Courtesy: TheQuint

An activist of the MNS allegedly committed suicide in Maharashtra’s Thane district, with some party leaders on Wednesday claiming he was “depressed and worried” over the Enforcement Directorate’s notice to MNS chief Raj Thackeray.

However, the police said no suicide note was found and a probe was underway to ascertain why he took the extreme step.

A state spokesperson of the MNS said the deceased, Pravin Chowgule (27), was a loyal worker and fond of Thackeray, and his death was a “major loss for the party”.

However, police sub-inspector Mahesh Kawde said Chowgule was an alcoholic and used to be frequently depressed. He allegedly doused himself with kerosene and set himself afire at his residence in Kalwa township around 10 pm on Tuesday, Kawde said.

When some of Chowgule’s neighbours saw smoke emanating from his house, they rushed there and took him to a local hospital where doctors declared him brought dead, he said. “No suicide note was found at the spot,” Kawde said, adding that the police registered a case of accidental death and a probe was underway. He said Chowgule lived alone and used to work as a tourist car operator. “He used to be frequently depressed and was a liquor addict. He had earlier also attempted suicide on two-three occasions,” the official said.

However, MNS Thane unit spokesman Nainesh Patankar said Chowgule took the extreme step as he was “depressed and angry” over the ED’s notice to Raj Thackeray. Prior to committing suicide, Chowgule expressed concern over this in posts on his Facebook page, he said. Another party worker said Chowgule was “worried” and constantly talking about Thackeray getting the ED notice.

“We told him to calm down and take rest, but it did not work. We came to know of his extreme step on Tuesday evening and took him to a local hospital. Doctors told us he had 85 per cent burns and died before reaching to hospital,” he said. Meanwhile, a state spokesperson of the MNS said Chowgule was a loyal party worker and fond of Thackeray.

“The party men knew him for his enthusiasm and he would paint his body in the party colour during every political event organised by the MNS…it is a major loss for the party,” he said. After getting information of his death, several MNS leaders and activists rushed to the hospital around midnight. Thackeray has been summoned by the ED in connection with a money laundering probe. He will appear before the ED on Thursday, the MNS earlier said.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Thackeray said he would “honour” the summons, and appealed to his party workers to maintain “peace and harmony” and not to indulge in violent protests. The ED is probing alleged irregularities related to loans and equity investment worth over Rs 450 crore by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) in Kohinoor CTNL Infrastructure Company, which is developing Kohinoor Square tower in Mumbai’s Dadar area.

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