Assailant used a silencer; two people have been arrested by Mumbai Police as per latest developments
The slain RTI activist, Bhupendra Vira’s family (below) has demanded action against former corporator Razzak Khan
A 61-year-old RTI activist was shot dead on Saturday night. The culprit shot him in the head when he was watching TV. Deceased Bhupendra Vira’s wife Ranjana (57) was present in the house when the murder was committed, yet she didn’t hear a thing.
Two persons, including a former corporator, were arrested this morning by Mumbai Police in connection with the murder of the RTI activist. "Amjad Khan (53) and his father Razzaq Khan (78) were arrested today morning on charges of murder of Bhupendra Vira. Razzak was earlier a corporator in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. It looks like a land dispute led to the Khans killing Vira," Mumbai Deputy Commissioner of Police Ashok Dudhe told PTI.
Razzaq Khan is former corporator of Congress from Santacruz area.
The Vakola police had registered a murder case; and had questioned over nine suspects yesterday. Vira's family wanted ex-corporator Razzak Khan interrogated, as the latter had been having disputes with Bhupendra.
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“The incident happened between 9.15 pm and 10 pm, when the victim was watching TV; his wife was in the other room. He was shot in the head. We are going through our records to find out if the deceased had complained about any threat to his life,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone VIII) Virendra Mishra.
The police suspect that the shooter used a silencer on the firearm so that no one would hear it being fired.
Killing him silently
Ranjana recalled her last conversation with her husband just minutes before he was killed. “It was around 9 pm after he reached home. He changed his clothes and sat on the plastic chair in front of the TV and was watching a pravachan (religious lecture). When I went to close the main door, he told me to keep it open, saying he had told the kids playing outside to be careful with the ball, and he wanted to see if they would heed him. He said to me that if the ball entered the house, he would not return it to them to teach them a lesson. I then went to the bathroom, and a few minutes later, a local passing by saw him bleeding and alerted me. I checked on him and found him breathing. So we rushed him to VN Desai hospital, but doctors declared him dead. When the police reached the hospital, I found out that the wound from where he was bleeding was a bullet injury,” she said.
A police source said, “He was shot from a close range, on the left side. The bullet exited from the back of the head. We suspect it was a foreign-made gun fitted with a silencer. There could be more than one person involved. The area where Bhupendra stayed has four entry-and-exit lanes; the shooter may have escaped through any one of them.”
“The body was sent to JJ hospital for post-mortem,” the source added.
Taking on land mafia
Residents from the area, who reached the activist’s house in Kolavary village near Kalina mosque, said he had taken on the land mafia in the neighbourhood and been continuing his fight against them.
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“He was a simple man and wore kurta and trousers. He was always seen wearing brown beads around his neck and was rarely seen wearing chappals. After Khan took over his steel goods unit, he started complaining against the former corporator’s illegal structures and was also successful in getting the H-east ward to issue notices against them,” said a neighbour.
Bhupendra’s daughter-in-law Sheila, who arrived from Goa on last morning, said, “He often used to say that his life was under threat from Razzak Khan and his sons. We demand justice... his killers should not be spared.”
(With PTI inputs)
Murdered in cold blood
>> January 2010: RTI activist Satish Shetty was killed after he exposed corrupt land deals in and around the Mumbai—Pune Expressway.
>> December 2013: RTI activist Abrar Shaikh, who was working to expose illegal construction in Bhiwandi was killed
>> July 2013: RTI activist Vasant Patil was killed in his house in Bhandup. Patil had filed several RTI applications against the illegal constructions in the area.
Satish Jain, AAP leader
‘Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) condemns the brutal murder of Bhupendra Vira, a AAP supporter. Vira bravely took on the land mafia, which was eyeing several properties in Kalina. This same mafia led by an ex-Congress corporator had stabbed Vira’s son four years back. It is due to Vira’s untiring efforts, that the BMC had ordered the demolition of four illegal structures, apparently belonging to the mafia.’