Investigations into the murder of a US-based non-resident Indian (NRI) here this month have led police to suspect some members of an influential socio-religious sect were behind the crime, an official said on Thursday.
"It is clear that Pankaj Trivedi's murder was not a case of personal rivalry, but it was an organised act with definite motive," Additional Commissioner of Police PK Jha told reporters.
"The motive behind the murder is clear and we have narrowed down the list of suspects. Several of them are associated with the Swadhyaya Parivar," said Jha.
The Swadhyaya Parivar is a socio-religious movement founded by late Pandurang Shashtri Athavale in the 1980s.
It has a wide following in many parts of the country, especially Maharashtra and Gujarat, and abroad.
However, after the death of its founder, the sect has fragmented with a breakaway faction accusing the sect's new chief, Athawale's daughter Jayashree Didi, as she is popularly known, of financial irregularities.
According to the police official, the murder could be the result of the infighting in the sect, as Trivedi was one of those senior Parivar members who had alleged corruption in the sect.
The victim had also sought police protection when he visited the country last year, fearing an attack from some members of the sect.
Following his murder in the city June 15, police reopened a case relating to the attack on Vinu Sanchania, a Britain-based NRI and Parivar member, in January 2003 in Jamnagar, about 400 km from here.
A Rajkot-based businessman Manish Savsani was arrested this week in connection with the Jamnagar attack and sent in nine-day police remand.
The attackers in both cases had used baseball bats, leading police to suspect a link between them.
While Jha refused to divulge the names of the suspects, he said: "We are close to making some arrests but we are gathering evidence."
He said police did not have ample evidence against Jayashree Didi but did not rule out the possibility of interrogating her.
Police have announced a reward of Rs 1,00,000 for providing clues to resolve the murder mystery.