The city police appear to be fighting a losing battle in their efforts to curb the war that has erupted between the Ganraj group and the Maratha Yodha group in Dhankawadi five months ago.
Rafiq Shaikh (19), who was murdered on Thursday night, is the fifth victim of the dispute, and goes to show that the police have failed to curb the menace.
Apart from murders, gang members have been indulging in burning and damaging vehicles of rivals and the residents of the area live in constant fear. On Thursday night, assailants carrying sharp weapons attacked Rafiq, the brother of Ashfaq Shaikh, who is a complainant in the Baiju Navghane murder case.
Navghane, the leader of the Ganraj group, was murdered on October 21 by members of the Datta Mane led Maratha Yodha group following a fight during the ‘toran procession in Navratri’.
After Navghane was killed, members of both gangs went on a rampage and vandalized several vehicles in the area and spread terror among the locals.
The Sahakarnagar police had arrested Mane and some accomplices and claimed that the situation was under control.
However on January 11, members of Navghane’s gang allegedly assaulted one Dnyaneshwar Jadhav, brother-in-law of Mane and stabbed him to death near Dattanagar in Kondhwa Budruk.
Jadhav was assisting the latter with legal matters and also helped him to get bail in the Navghane murder case. Ashfaq was the main suspect in that murder case and was arrested by the Sahkarnagar police.
The rival groups continued to extract revenge and on January 28, Navghane’s group members allegedly set ablaze Tortoise Garment shop in Balaji Nagar, in which two youths died. The police arrested Navghane’s widow Yashashwini (26), claiming that she was the mastermind behind the two incidents.
On April 5 at 10.30 pm, Rafiq was attacked while visiting a fruit juice stall run by his younger brother Rasool (17) at Sambhaji Nagar. “While he was helping to clean the stall, an group armed with choppers attacked and injured Rafiq.
Rasool and some locals rushed Rafiq to Bharati hospital where the doctors declared him brought dead. Later Rasool lodged a complaint at the Sahkarnagar police station.
Plan of action
ACP (crime) Anant Shinde said, “We have increased police presence and two anti-rioting vehicles have been deployed in the Dhankawadi area round the clock.”
He added that several members of both gangs are in jail, but their relatives are trying to create a disturbance in the area. Senior PI with the Sahakarnagar police station said, “We have increased police patrolling in the area and maximum police force is being used to avoid any untoward incident.”
He further said that both gangs are using juveniles to commit crimes, which is proving to be a deterrent in investigations. “We have also started checking criminals on record from 2008, and if necessary we are taking preventive action against them,” said Takwale.
The Sahakarnagar police arrested five persons yesterday and detained two juveniles in the Rafiq murder case. Those arrested include Ankush Mane (21), who they suspect to be main conspirator, along with four others identified as Sagar Jadhav (20), Chidanand Daduti (20), Manoj Pawar (18) and Harish Bhutale (19). The accused have been remanded to police custody till April 16.