Two men at a construction site in Andheri (W) were shot dead by unidentified men, allegedly from the Ravi Pujari gang, on Monday.
Yogesh Khule, 29, site supervisor, and Samrat Devarsia, 28, the site engineer, were shot at point-blank range.
While in Khule’s case the bullet pierced his right eye, in Devarsia’s case, the bullet hit him in the head. He died during treatment. Khule, a resident of Navi Mumbai had got married just a month ago.
“The Andheri project is being redeveloped by the Sahana Group, along with Sudhakar Shetty, a bar owner, and Ganesh Naik, state excise minister,” said KMM Prasanna, zonal deputy commissioner of police. Three years ago the site was a slum colony called Hassan Chawl. Aslam Musa, who was present when the shootout happened, owns the land.
Police said the shooters used the same modus operandi as in the Vashi shootout in February where two men, who claimed to be from the Ravi Pujari gang, shot at a site engineer, Sanjay Phatak, 35, at a construction site.
At 11.30am on Monday, two men posing as courier deliverymen entered the site at Seizure Road near Amboli church. As soon as the watchman allowed the two men inside, one of them held him at gunpoint. The other man barged into a room where Khule and Devarsia were sitting and said the gang had been trying to get in touch with them for a long time. He then fired at them. Police said the duo then fled in an autorickshaw.
Before fleeing, they left a letter with an international number and Ravi Pujari’s name on it. When the police tried the number, it was out of service, an officer said.
The numbers in both the Andheri and Vashi shootouts are the same, police said. Witnesses noted down the registration number of the autorickshaw and police are in the process of tracing it. “A detailed inspection will reveal how many rounds were actually fired,” Prasanna said.
Himanshu Roy, joint commissioner of police (crime), Rajnish Seth, joint commissioner of police (law and order), Deven Bharti, additional commissioner of police (crime) and Nisar Tamboli, deputy commissioner of police (crime) and zonal deputy commissioner and additional commissioner, west region, Amitabh Gupta visited the spot.
DN Nagar police have registered a case of murder against two unidentified men.
Sources in the crime branch said Sudhakar Shetty had received an extortion call from Ravi Pujari around four years ago, but apparently Pujari suddenly stopped calling him. Shetty had not approached the police with a complaint.
Pujari trying to regain his turf in city: Police
Mumbai: Crime branch sleuths suspect that the shoot-out at Amboli on Monday could well be a desperate attempt by Ravi Pujari to regain his turf in Mumbai’s extortion market which he had lost following the arrest of several of his gang members.
The Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) had dealt a blow to Pujari last year by rounding up six of his key foot soldiers in Mumbai in September.
Rajendra Nepali alias Thapa who used to be Pujari’s main mafia manager in India and Nepal, was shot dead in a police encounter. Also, Pujari’s chief hawala operator, Sunil Sudhakar Shetty was arrested in Dubai and deported to Mumbai early this month. “Through these shoot-outs and murders he wants to send a message to his targets for extortion,” the crime branch official said.
Crime branch sleuths also suspect that the alleged Ravi Pujari men who shot dead two site officials of the Sahana Group of Companies in Amboli on Monday, are the same who had made murderous attempts on men at two residential project sites in Nashik and Navi Mumbai last month.
A senior crime branch official, who is a part of the team investigating the Amboli firing case, said on all three occasions, the hoodlums had left behind letters, which was different from the chits that used to be left by suspected Pujari men after shoot-outs in the past.
“The chits had Ravi Pujari’s name along with a foreign telephone number. This was to indicate that the men belonged to Pujari who should be contacted on that number. But, the letters left in the last three shoot-outs carried abusive words as well,” the officer said.
“Also, unlike on previous occasions when Pujari’s shooters would fire just to create fear, these shooters are keen on injuring or killing people in order to scare the target (builders),” said the officer, requesting anonymity.
Additional commissioner of police, crime, Deven Bharti, however, refused to draw any conclusion, saying “It is premature to say anything before we have identified or nabbed the criminals.”