Manoj Mhatre's absconding cousin named main suspect by eyewitness, who saw him stabbing corporator with a sword
Corporator Manoj Mhatre
The police have zeroed in on the main accused behind the brutal murder of three-time Bhiwandi corporator Manoj Anant Mhatre: his cousin Prashant. Investigation into the case revealed that the brothers had a personal and political rivalry.
The Narpoli police have registered a case against BJP member Prashant and are probing CCTV footage of the incident that shows Manoj being brutally and repeatedly attacked with a weapon.
Cousin Prashant Mhatre
Manoj was a Congress corporator from the Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation (BNMC) and was also the leader of house.
Complainant Pradeep Mhatre, Manoj's driver and eyewitness in the case, told the police that Manoj had a rivalry with Prashant for the past few years.
Before the 2012 BNMC elections, Prashant had made a futile attempt at demanding a ticket for the ward Manoj had already won two terms in.
Pradeep also said that after the election, Prashant had burnt Manoj's vehicles more than three times in Ansarbaug. "Also, in October 2013, Prashant tried to kill Manoj along with his assailants at the office of a local corporator. Later, small disputes were common between them. Prashant and Manoj were both from Kalvar village in Bhiwandi. But after this dispute, Manoj stopped coming to the village," said a police officer.
Hours before his murder, Manoj met local politicians Madhukar Jagtap, Uma Shankar aka Mulayam Yadav and a senior police official at Vatika Hotel on Mumbai-Nashik highway. Prashant had been pestering Yadav to come meet him. All of them went to Narpoli police station to register a non-cognisable complaint against Prashant.
Seen holding a sword
"Later, Pradeep picked up Manoj in his Innova and they headed for his office after dropping the others off. They left for home around 8.30pm. He was parking the car when he heard a loud noise. When he turned, he saw Charanjiv alias Motu Mhatre holding a 12-bore gun in his hand and firing at Manoj. He then saw Mittun Mohan Mhatre and Mahesh Mhatre holding a big sword and assaulting Manoj, while Prashant too was assaulting Manoj with a small sword," said a police officer.
Pradeep said Prashant was at the spot at the time. "He has identified all persons. We have formed four teams, while the crime branch is also conducting a parallel investigation," said Manoj Patil, deputy commissioner of police, Bhiwandi.
"We also went to Prashant's residence in Kalvar village, but we found his house shut. He is missing along with his family members. We suspect that Manoj was hit with a single bullet from behind and was stabbed about 20 times. We have sent his body to the JJ Hospital for a post-mortem report," added Patil.