Shiv Sena corporator, 6 others, get life for Navi Mumbai builder's murder in 2011

Seven people including Raja Gawari, a Shiv Sena corporator from Thane Municipal Corporation, were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Thane Sessions Court on Thursday. They had been booked in the murder case of a Navi Mumbai-based builder who was shot dead in 2011.

Raja Gawari
Raja Gawari

Thane Additional Sessions Judge A S Bhaisare sentenced the seven who include Raja Gawari (38), Atul alias Batli Deshmukh (34), Ravichand alias Raja Thakur (31), Jaideep Salvi (35), Sujit Sutar (35), Sujit alias Bakarya Naynirgune (34) and Nitin Vaity (35). One of the accused, Bunty Mishra has been absconding since past five years. Gawari won the TMC election when he was behind bars. He fought the election on a Congress ticket and won. After becoming the corporator he was released on bail. He then left the Congress and joined the Shiv Sena in June 2014, when his political mentor Ravindra Phatak, one of Narayan Rane’s staunchest supporters, joined Shiv Sena.

Advocate Hemlata Deshmukh, the special public prosecutor appointed by the law and judiciary, said, "We achieved great success in the case, as we faced a lot of political pressure. We examined around 24 witnesses of which around 7 were eyewitnesses. Around six rounds were found in the body of the deceased and the reports of doctors and ballistic experts evidence worked in the case."

Deshmukh further added, "The main accused, Gawari, threatened the driver of the deceased, Kishore Shiv Moorthy Gaikwad, one of the witnesses. Gawari got the driver to tell Kalwa police that he (Gawari) was not involved, but a person that looked like him was involved in the case. But later in the court, Gaikwad said he was threatened by Gawari."

Along with life imprisonment the court order fined each of them Rs 5,000.

They were found guilty of the murder, attempt to murder and rioting. The prosecution told the court that previous long pending professional enmity was the motive behind the brutal killing.

The incident

On Jan 4, 2011, at around 1:15 pm, Deepak Patil, an accused in the murder of Navi Mumbai’s NCP corporator Devidas Chowghule (Brother of Navi Mumbai Shiv Sena chief Vijay Chowghule), was on his way to Rabale in his Scorpio, after attending a court hearing, when another Scorpio blocked his car below Vithawa railway bridge.

Jaideep Salvi smashed the glass of the vehicle and Batli Deshmukh fired on Deepak Patil. When Patil tried to escape, Deshmukh shot him again. When Patil ran for his life, he was fired at with around six rounds. According to the police, Patil, who was reportedly in contact with gangster Ravi Pujari, and Sujit Sutar, were not on good terms for several years. Sutar had allegedly killed one of Patil’s aides. When Sutar asked for 50% partnership in the supply of construction materials at a site in Vithawa, Patil refused saying that he would supply the materials on his own. The accused were arrested by Kalwa police 45 days after the murder.

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