Underworld don Hemant Pujari was believed to have ordered the killing of 32-year-old police informer Sukesh Shetty — his friend and associate till recently — at a bar-cum-restaurant in Bandra (east) on Monday night, the police said.
The shootout, a senior officer involved in the investigation said on Tuesday, had brought the spectre of gangland killings back in Mumbai. The planning, use of imported 9mm pistols and precise execution was typical of the city’s underworld, he said.
This is the fourth police informer killed since last October. “This is my personal failure. I couldn’t protect him though he risked his life for us,” said Senior Inspector and “encounter specialist” Vijay Salaskar. Shetty was believed to be his prized informer. Based on Shetty’s tip-offs, Salaskar killed seven Pujari aides, including the don’s right-hand man Kundan Singh Rawat, and arrested 22 of his men.
Encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma, whose informer Amjad Khan was killed at Kala Ghoda on October 16 by alleged Rajan shooters, said: “With encounter specialists sidelined in the force, the underworld is picking on our informers.”
Requesting anonymity, another encounter specialist said Monday’s shootout showed that the underworld was emboldened by the recent state move to restrain police encounters by subjecting them to Crime Investigation Department inquiries.
The Nirmal Nagar police probing Monday’s murder detained six suspects. Based on accounts of the hotel waiter and manager, they have prepared digital sketches of the two shooters — in their early 20s, with short hair and thin moustaches.
“Shetty has worked for Pujari. But Pujari believes he had betrayed him,” said Additional Commissioner of Police Bipin Bihari.