Ex-Tata Steel officer faced frustration at work place: Police

Cops probing suicide of Tata Steel`s corporate communications` Charudatta Deshpande claimed that he had no personal problems but faced "frustration and disappointment" at his workplace.

Mumbai: City police, probing the suicide of the former head of Tata Steel`s corporate communications department, claimed today that he had no personal problems but faced "frustration and disappointment" due to the experience at his work place.
However, at this point, the police has not linked "extreme work pressure" to the suicide of 57-year-old Charudatta Deshpande.

"Our probe has revealed that Charudutta Deshpande had no family disputes or problems at home, and that his frustration and
disappointment was on account of his work place and his experiences at Tata Steel," Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Himanshu Roy said.

Roy stated that it was discovered that Deshpande was the first person in Tata Steel, who, despite being appointed at a very senior level, was not confirmed in service even after completion of his probation.

A police team, that had gone to Tata Steel headquarters at Jamshedpur, had seized Deshpande`s personal computer and is examining as many as 1,000 emails he had stored.

"We have questioned as many as 47 people so far. Our investigation is progressing well and is nearing completion," Roy said, days after a police team returned to Mumbai after questioning several people, including Tata officials, in connection with the case at Jamshedpur.

Another police officer said that those questioned included Tata Steel Vice-President (Operations) Partho Sengupta and the company`s current Corporate Communications head Ramesh Krishnan, who was close to Deshpande.

Deshpande, a veteran journalist-turned-corporate communications professional was found hanging at his suburban Vasai residence in nearby Thane district on June 28.

No suicide note was found, though his friends and former colleagues alleged that he had been harassed.

A case was registered at the Vasai police station in Thane
district and a probe is on to find out if anyone had abetted Deshpande`s suicide.

The Mumbai police crime branch has been conducting a parallel investigation after an order by Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil, following a demand by the Mumbai Press Club for a police investigation into the suspicious circumstances surrounding Charudutta Deshpande`s suicide.

"In the weeks before Deshpande`s exit from the company in May, depositions (the statements of those questioned in the case so far) revealed that he became more nervous and began to smoke heavily. In one instance, this had even triggered off a fire alarm," the crime branch chief said.

Roy said, "Deshpande developed a sense of frustration because of being sidelined and denied normal travel opportunities which he thought were very essential to fulfill his job profile. Only two of his 36 requests for travel were sanctioned and his request for an audience with the senior management was repeatedly denied."

The police also found some notes in Deshpande`s handwriting, but did not reveal the content.

Deshpande had faced more work `pressure` after an article appeared in Forbes Magazine on Tata Steel in February, 2013.

"The article was not too negative of Tata Steel, but some Tata Steel managers perceived it to be so, and blamed it on Deshpande. It has been established that he was uncomfortable with one or two persons; and the harassment by his tormentors only increased after the Forbes article," Roy said.

The police is still in the process of examining a lot of data and is keen to fill some gaps. Police teams may visit Jamshedpur again if required. The investigation will be completed soon and the case will be taken to its logical conclusion, Roy said.

Meanwhile, a press note issued by the Mumbai Press Club
today stated, "Last Saturday, the internal Inquiry Committee appointed by Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry on the Deshpande case, held a special sitting to record the depositions of Rajesh Chaturvedi, Managing Director of Adfactors PR, public relations executive Vinda Walawalkar and journalist Prince Mathew, the author of the Forbes article".

"The three persons had been in close touch with Charudutta Deshpande before his death and calling for these witnesses was formally requested by the Mumbai Press Club."

The Mumbai Press Club also said that it had received requests from journalists in Jamshedpur demanding an opportunity to depose before the inquiry panel and accordingly it had requested the panel to hold a special sitting in Jamshedpur for the purpose.


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