The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday arrested a key accused in the murder of Congress leader Pawanraje Nimbalkar.
Chhote Pandey, former RJD MP Shahbuddin’s ex- driver, had allegedly bought arms and arranged for shooters. NCP leader Padmasinh Patil is the prime accused. Pandey was brought to Mumbai from Uttar Pradesh (UP) after a court here issued a warrant against him. CBI sources said he fled Mumbai immediately after the murder.
Pandey surrendered to the Ghaziabad police and was remanded to custody until March 20 by a magistrate’s court at Alibaug.
He has more than 18 cases against him in UP.
Special Public Prosecutor Ejaz Khan told the court Pandey had bought two pistols and hired sharpshooters Dinesh Tiwari and Pintu Singh.
Khan also told the court Pandey had driven the car to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, with Tiwari and Singh, to kill Nimbalkar.
According to the chargesheet filed in May 2006, after a failed bid to eliminate Nimbalkar a year ago, Tiwari, Singh and Pandey came to Mumbai looking for Nimbalkar.
NCP leader Patil was arrested on June 6, for his alleged role in the double murder of Nimbalkar and his driver Samad Kazi. They were shot while travelling on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway on June 3, 2006.
The other accused include Latur-based businessman Satish Mandade, corporator Mohan Shukla, Parasmal Jain, state excise inspector Shashikant Kulkarni, Bahujan Samaj Party worker Kailash Yadav.
The CBI chargesheet filed on August 20 last year, named Patil as prime accused. The agency said Patil’s motive was that he (Patil) felt Nimbalkar was a threat to his political career. Patil and the other accused have been booked for murder, criminal conspiracy and under the Arms Act.
The CBI also said Patil paid Rs 30 lakh to other accused to eliminate Nimbalkar.