In a bizarre incident, a miscreant, suspected to be under the influence of alcohol, opened fire at the cashier of a petrol pump at Goregaon (east) in the wee hours of Monday after the latter allegedly refused to give him change for Rs 100.
Though the cashier had a providential escape, a worker at the petrol pump was hit by the stray bullet on his thigh. He was stated to be out of danger.
Senior Inspector Ashok Ingole of the Goregaon police station told HT on Monday that at around 4:20 am, a man in his early 20s’ came walking to the Car Care Centre petrol pump, run by the Hindustan Petro Chemicals Limited (HPCL). The petrol pump is located right along the Western Express high way, near Hubb shopping mall.
He went straight to the cashier’s office. Finding the front glass door of the cashier shut, the man turned towards the sliding window counter and allegedly asked for change of Rs 100. Sashikant Upadhaya, the night-shift cashier, however, allegedly refused to give him the change.
An argument ensued and when the miscreant pulled out a gun, Upadhaya, ran for cover. The miscreant followed him and fired a single shot at him. However, the bullet missed its target and hit Vijay Babu Kamble, a worker who was standing in the adjacent room where Upadhaya rushed in for cover.
Narrating the incident, Savita Chavan, supervisor of Car Care Centre, said that the miscreant appeared to have come prepared to stage a robbery. “Otherwise why should one come to a police station at that point of time asking for change of Rs 100?," she asked.
According to Savita, the lone gunman walked upto the cashier’s office. “Normally after midnight we deploy a skeletal staff of around five-six as per the requirement. Perhaps the gunman knew about it and came with an intention to rob. The demand for change of Rs 100 and the following argument was just a ploy to get the door opened as he thought it had been locked,” Savita claimed.
He said as the cashier noticed the gun, he raised an alarm and ran to the next room for cover. Kamble, who was standing in the next room came out, but before he could know what was going on, the miscreant opened fire. After hearing the gun shot, other employees rushed to the same room for cover, even as the lone lathi-weilding watchman, Bahadur Singh, ran to the back of the petrol pump to save his life.
Meanwhile, Mangesh Parkar, a co-worker, pulled all the workers into an ante chamber and all the employees got them shut in that room. By that time, two other associates of the miscreant, who were standing at a distance with firearms, had entered the room and even banged the door.
One of the staff members who had a mobile phone with him, called the police. “Thank god, the police arrived at the spot immediately,” Savita said adding, “by that time they had fled the scene.”
Kamble, was later rushed to the Bhagwati hospital and later discharged as the bullet had just gazed his thigh.
Senior inspector Ingole said that though the intention of the miscreants was still not known, “but prima facie it appeared to be the fall out of the fight rather than robbery. Had robbery been the intention, they normally would have avoided any argument, as in the case of any other case of robbery,” he added.
He said the miscreants were nevertheless, criminals though the firearm was a crude device. “From the ascent they were speaking, it appeared that they were from the Hindi speaking belt of North India.”
The witness were later taken to the photograph and fingerprint bureau at the police headquarters at Crawford Market to identify the criminals from the records.
Sr Inspector Ingole said that the police were also preparing the sketches of the suspects even as a hunt has been launched in the western suburbs to nab them.