Mumbai’s real estate industry showed its ugly face on Saturday when two men, one of them disguised as a security guard, pumped five bullets into New Zealand-based real estate consultant and builder Sunil Kumar to settle scores over a disputed property.
Kumar, a director with SK builders, had just stepped off his swanky BMW GT in front of the SK Brothers building in Sector 28, Vashi at 8.15 am when the two men accosted him and shot him five times with a country-made pistol. While two bullets pierced his right hand, three were pumped into his chest and stomach. The second attacker then pulled out a dagger and stabbed his face.
CCTV grabs of Navi Mumbai builder Sunil Kumar (below left) being gunned down by unknown assailants on Saturday morning at Vashi
As onlookers gaped in horror, too stunned to move, the assailants got on a motorcycle and tried to escape but were pursued by Kumar’s brother-in-law, who was travelling with him in the BMW. Kumar was rushed to the Fortis Hiranandani Hosital in Vashi where he succumbed to his injuries.
Speaking to Sunday MiD DAY, Purushottam Karade, an officer with the Vashi Police station, said, “The public caught one of the killers and handed him over to police. He has been identified as Vishwakarma Shettiar, a history-sheeter and a resident of BDD chawls, Worli.”
Killer ‘conducts’ last rites
The other accused however, managed to escape. Shettiar, whose statement has been recorded, said he performed the last rites of Kumar because he “knew and respected” the dead man. Speaking to Sunday MiD DAY, Additional CP Fatehsingh Patil said, “As per Shettiar’s statement, the victim had recently bought a plot of land from him but failed to pay up the Rs 13 lakh that was due. Shettiar told us he knew his victim quite well and since he realised he would not be able to attend his last rites, he conducted it on the spot by breaking a coconut over his head and garlanding him.”
Had earned builder lobby ire
Kumar had recently upset a section of the local builders by exposing illegal construction activities in Navi Mumbai. On August 5, 2012, MiD DAY had reported how dozens of RTIs filed by Kumar had revealed that many well-known establishments in Navi Mumbai, including the City Centre Mall, Palm Beach Galleria Mall, Fortune Hotel and Shreeji Heights, had illegally used more FSI and carpet area than they were entitled to as per the development plan. Police sources said they are investigating whether any animosity due to Kumar’s activism was a reason behind the murder.
Kumar, also had offices in Auckland apart from Mumbai.
Son says police inaction, hospital delay killed dad
Speaking to SMD, Kumar’s son said, “After I got word that my father had been shot, I immediately rushed to the hospital around 8.40 am. As he lay in the ICU, he told me “Don’t worry, nothing will happen to me.” While we were waiting outside the ICU, a crowd had gathered. Someone from the crowd came to my mother and handed her a phone. The person on the other end of the line said, “Your husband will not survive.”
Moments after he called, the doctors called us from inside ICU and told us my father had passed away. I don’t understand how this is possible as he was talking when I met him. He had been brought in at 8.40 but it was 10.30 by the time he had been properly attended to.”
He said the family had no idea who the caller was. “We had told the Commissioner of Police to grant him police protection, but we were turned away. We appealed to the High Court as my father continually got threatening calls. The matter was slated to come up for hearing on Monday,” he said. But when contacted, Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner AK Sharma said, “I have never even met Kumar. However, he had taken paid police protection from the force four years ago after a fallout with three of his brothers.”
Hospital sources too rubbished allegations of delay. “The patient was brought to the hospital with multiple gunshots and stab wounds and a non-recordable BP. We tried our best to revive the patient but he could not be saved,” read an official statement from Fortis Hiranandani Hospital in Vashi.