Pune (rural) police have identified the prime accused who opened fired at an employee of the Khed-Shivapur toll plaza on Mumbai-Bangalore national highway on Tuesday night. However, no arrests have been made yet.
The offenders, who are at large, reportedly have criminal backgrounds, with one of them distinguished as Atul Phale — a resident of Ambegaon Pathar near Katraj — who has a murder case against his name. His accomplices are yet to be identified.
The lone injured person was toll plaza employee Suresh Balu Khomne (25). According to doctors, his condition is stable and he is out of danger. Despite being injured, Khomne chased the attackers on a bike with the help of a colleague. After a short while, the co-worker realised that Khomne required medical attention and he drove him to a private hospital near Katraj.
Mahesh Mali, a friend and colleague of Khomne, said, “The assailants in the car claimed to be ‘bhais’ from the Velha village. While the employees were discussing the matter of allowing the vehicle to pass, the occupants started abusing us. They then parked the car on the roadside and three of them alighted. The trio walked towards Khomne and opened fire.
The attackers then fled, even as two constables on bandobast duty too gave chase.” The offenders were brazen in their display of weapons. “When we asked for some identification, they said, ‘You want to see ID? This is our ID,’ and waved their guns,” Mali told MiD DAY
Superintendent of police Manoj Lohiya said, “The miscreants had avoided paying toll while going from Pune towards Satara. The workers at the plaza had allowed them to go through without shelling out the money.
But on the way back, the employees had a heated argument with the gunmen over toll. The staffers at the plaza initially claimed that two bullets were fired, but we have recovered only one round from the spot. The injured employee too was hit by a single bullet.”
“With the help of CCTV footage we have got the registration number of the car, and traced the owner. Efforts are on to nab the assailants,” Lohiya added.
Gangster hit by gunfire
Unidentified persons opened fire on Shivaji alias Shiva Sashte (34), an active member of the Nilesh Ghaywal gang, on Panshet Road near Khanapur around 6.30 pm yesterday. Sashte, a resident of Sambhajinagar in Dhankawadi, is now at a private hospital in Bibwewadi. The bullet has been removed and his condition is stable, said doctors.
According to police, Sashte had gone to his village at Khanapur yesterday. He was returning to Pune in the evening when he was attacked by the unidentified assailants. He received a bullet injury on his leg. Sashte was earlier staying at a slum in Gultekdi, and recently shifted to Bharati Vidyapeeth area. He was also involved in the gang war, which had happened right in front of Dattawadi police chowkie in July 2010.