Ex-corporator Razzak Khan (in veil) and his son were yesterday arrested in connection with the murder of RTI activist Bhupendra Vira
Armed with the Right to Information Act, slain activist Bhupendra Vira was a one-man army against illegal construction in Kalina. In the past six months alone, the 61-year-old was responsible for 100 notices and demolition orders being issued against illegal structures – most of them allegedly belonging to the ex-corporator who was yesterday arrested in connection with Vira’s murder.
RTI activist Bhupendra Vira
However, the police are yet to go through these complaints. “In the past six months, Bhupendra Vira had registered 40 complaints and we issued notices to 100 structures based on his complaints. The police have not yet asked for information on the nature or reasons of his complaints,” said a senior official from the H-East ward. Assistant municipal commissioner Prashant Gaikwad of H-East ward added, “If the police requires the details of the cases, we will share it with them.”
After Vira was shot dead at his residence on Saturday night, his family suspected that local politician and former Congress corporator from Kalina, Razzak Khan could be behind the killing because of a long-running feud between them and in retribution for Vira’s activism.
Last morning, the Vakola police arrested Razzak Khan and his eldest son Amjad under Sections 302 (murder) and 34 (common intention). The duo was sent to police custody till October 24, so that the police can carry out interrogations and recover Call Detail Records (CDR) and the murder weapon.
“Two people have been arrested in the matter and further the investigations in the matter are going on,” confirmed Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone VIII) Virendra Mishra.
While the shooter is yet to be identified, the police found that there were several disputes between the deceased activist and Razzak. A senior police official who is part of the investigations said, “They were arrested on the basis of the FIR registered against them following the murder. There were past records in Vakola police station of disputes between the accused and victim and Bhupendra had also complained to the police that his life was in danger following an attack on his son Mayur and his cousin brother Rajat in 2010.”
Sheila Vira, Mayur’s wife, told mid-day, “Razzak Khan and his son had forcefully taken over my father-in-law’s steel goods godown. They also attacked my husband and his cousin brother. They also arrested in the matter in 2010 and were in Arthur Road Jail for over a week before they got out on bail.”
The police are now investigating the matter to try and find direct evidence against the arrested accused.
Tainted and powerful
Former Congress corporator Razzak Khan has seven cases registered against him — six at Vakola police station and one at Azad Maidan police station. The cases include charges of physical assault, trespassing and intimidation. He allegedly also grabbed several patches of land in Kalina and built illegal structures on them. His local clout is indicated by the fact that the neighbourhood in which Vira lived is called Razzak Compound.
Number of illegal construction complaints that Vira made to the BMC in last six months