'I could smell an attack'

Sena leader Arvind Walekar who survived the firing in Ambernath, but lost his bodyguard to the assailant's bullets suspects his old rivals were behind the attack; police detain 25 suspects

A day after the Ambernath shooting at the office of Shiv Sena (SS) shakha pramukh Arvind Walekar (51), chilling details have emerged about the motive for the attack. According to Walekar, his nemesis Gulabrao Karanjule also a Shiv Sena leader, two Republican Party of India (RPI) leaders and a retired assistant commissioner of police (ACP) could be behind the vicious attack.

Bloody scene: Cops and crowds gather outside the shakha where
Arvind Walekar (below) was shot at. Walekar's supporters had called for
an Ambernath bandh yesterday

Previous political and personal enmity was cited as the possible reason for the attack, as Shivaji nagar police yesterday detained and questioned Karanjule, RPI councilor Shyam Gaikwad, and retired ACP Ramesh Bhagat alias Mama, which had resulted in the death of Walekar's bodyguard Shyamsundar Yadav.

Yadav  (40), who had shot and killed one of the assailants, according to the police, hasn't been identified yet and the police have circulated the deceased killer's picture to all police stations. Police have also recovered Rs 150 cash and a railway ticket purchased from Dombivli railway station from his pocket. Walekar said, "I could smell an attack. Hence, I was taking precautions by employing bodyguards. I suspect Shyam Gaikwad, Gulabrao Karanjule, Ramesh Bhagat and Kabir Gaikwad intended to kill me. I have given my statement to the police."
Remembering his bodyguard's effort, Walekar said, "Yadav would say that he was ready to take a bullet to his chest for me. He did the same."

Arch rivals
According to sources, Kabir Gaikwad, who left for Hong Kong four days ago, is the son of late Naresh Gaikwad. Naresh and Walekar were arch rivals since a long time and it is alleged that Naresh was killed in 2002 at the behest of Walekar. However, the court had acquitted Walekar in the case. Karanjule is a former Ambernath municipal council president and a builder. He is alleged to have political animosity with Walekar. Ramesh Bhagat alias Mama is a retired assistant commissioner of police and is the father-in-law of Karanjule.

"We have registered a FIR against unknown persons. Walekar suspects Karanjule, Gaikwad, Gaikwad and Ramesh Bhagat. We have interrogated more than 25 persons including Karanjule," said Gautam Deshmukh, senior inspector Shivajinagar police station.

"We have seized two pistols, 15 live cartridges, two magazines and 10 empty cartridges from the spot," added Deshmukh.

The incident
According to the police, on Wednesday night at 8.30 pm Walekar was chatting with Birju Shingte, Ravi Thackeray and Nand Kumar Raut inside the Shiv Sena shakha near Ambernath (East) railway station.  Four to five armed assailants came and started firing at Walekar. His bodyguard Shyamsundar Yadav fell to the bullets. When the shooters started fleeing, an injured Shyamsundar returned fire. He managed to shoot down one of the assailants. The other bodyguards of Walekar -- Rajmani Mishra, Rakesh Yadav and Imam Shaikh were also injured in the firing.  Rakesh Yadav has been admitted to Sridevi hospital and Imam is admitted to KEM hospital.

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