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Dispute over booze bill: Youth shoots down childhood friend

The deceased has been identified as 25-year-old Nitin Virkhan and police claim that CCTV footage obtained from the premises clearly shows the accused pumping a bullet into the victim’s chest.

Atharv bar
Drunken frenzy: 25-year-old Nitin Virkhan was shot dead by his friend Akash Bhalerao after a fracas over paying the bill at Atharv bar in Kharabwadi, Chakan on Sunday night. PIC/Avinash Dudhawade

The main accused identified as Akash Bhalerao, a resident of Khed, has been arrested. Police said that soon after the incident Bhalerao was apprehended near Talegaon Dabhade at midnight while trying to escape. Two others have been declared absconding in the case. Police have registered a case of murder against the main suspect and his two accomplices, who were present when the firing incident took place at the restaurant.

“The deceased and his two friends had come to Atharv Restaurant and Bar on Sunday evening and were consuming liquor till late night,” said police inspector Sushil Kadam of Chakan police station. He said that they were drinking till 10 pm, after which Virkhan telephoned Bhalerao, who was his childhood friend, and asked him to bring some money to pay the bill.

“Bhalerao who has a paan shop and a small hotel in the Kharabwadi, arrived at the restaurant and joined the drinking session. They were drinking till 11.15 pm when the deceased directed Bhalerao to pay the bill. He, however, expressed his inability to do that, stating that he did not have money,” said Kadam.

Angered by his reply, Virkhan called Bhalerao a beggar, following which a heated argument ensued with the inebriated duo abusing each other. “During the fight, Virkhan pushed Bhalerao to the ground. Humiliated by his childhood friend, he pulled out a gun from his waist and shot Virkhan point blank,” said Kadam.

Hearing the commotion, the hotel owner and his staff rushed to the garden area and saw Virkhan lying on the ground. Soon after, the police were notified of the incident. All three friends, including Bhalerao, then got into a car and fled from thespot.

“We then alerted a patrolling team who gave chase to the car. Bhalerao was nabbed in Talegaon Dabhade. The two others, however, managed to give the cops a slip,” said Kadam.

Police have recovered the CCTV footage from the camera, which was installed in the garden area where the incident took place. “It is clearly visible in the footage that Bhalerao fired at Virkhan,” said Kadam, adding preliminary investigations reveal that the bullet lodged in the victim’s body may have been manufactured at the Khadaki ammunition factory. Both accused and deceased have no earlier cases registered against them in any police station.

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