Rape, cheating cases against owner of agency that set up Ghatkopar hoarding | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Rape, cheating cases against owner of agency that set up Ghatkopar hoarding

ByManish K Pathak
May 15, 2024 10:20 AM IST

Mulund police have launched a manhunt for Bhavesh Bhinde, 51, owner of Ego Media Pvt Ltd, the company that set up the 120x120 feet hoarding in Pant Nagar

MUMBAI: Mulund police have launched a manhunt for Bhavesh Bhinde, 51, owner of Ego Media Pvt Ltd, the company that set up the 120x120 feet advertising hoarding in Pant Nagar, Ghatkopar East, which collapsed after being hit by a 12-minute dust storm on Monday. The billboard fell on a busy petrol pump, taking close to 100 people under it, 14 of who died.

Rape, cheating cases against owner of agency that set up Ghatkopar hoarding
Rape, cheating cases against owner of agency that set up Ghatkopar hoarding

The hoarding, which defied the permissible size of 40x40 feet, was erected on a 10-year-lease. The company had applied to the Limca Book of Records to declare it as the largest commercial hoarding in India.

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Bhinde, who was booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder after the incident, is no stranger to crime. There are two cases registered against him in Mulund -- for rape and molestation, and cheating.

The first case was registered in January this year after a woman working in his office levelled the allegation against him. He managed to get an anticipatory bail from Bombay high court and was therefore was not arrested by Mulund police, although a chargesheet has been filed against him. The second case was registered in the same police station in 2016.

Apart from these, there are 21 cases of fines against him under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, filed before 2009, said a police officer of the Mulund police station. Bhinde had contested assembly election as an independent candidate from Mulund constituency in 2009.

As soon as he got wind of the first death on Monday, Bhinde switched off his phone, said a police officer. Sources claimed Bhinde, who is known to rub shoulders with senior bureaucrats, was tipped off about the FIR against him and advised to flee.

“Once his name cropped up in the case, a police team visited his home in Mulund as well as homes of some of his relatives but he was nowhere to be found. As his phone is switched off, we are unable to trace his last location,” said senior inspector Rajesh Kewale of the Pant Nagar police station.

The Pant Nagar police on Monday night registered a case against Bhinde under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.

Another police officer also held the GRP “responsible for negligence as it owned the land where the hoarding was set up”. He added, “BMC officials also did not bother to check these illegal hoardings – they should have not allowed them at all,” said the officer.

Sena launches blame-game

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena – a member of the ruling alliance in the state -- did not let the opportunity slip to attack Shiv Sena (UBT) for its alleged association with Bhinde. At a press conference, industries minister Uday Samant alleged that the accused had an “unwritten agreement with the party that allowed him to set up hoardings for birthdays and functions of leaders”.

“Illegal hoardings came up during the MVA rule and Bhinde illicitly used his association with Sena UBT leaders for their birthdays and election campaigns,” said Samant, circulating pictures of Sena UBT chief Uddhav Thackeray and the party’s MP Arvind Sawant with Bhinde.

Samant called for an inquiry into the “actual instigators of the incident” and underscored that there were at least 240 complaints, including one by a former corporator, against him. “Bhinde wields considerable political influence, but he is a pawn and it’s imperative to uncover the true owner and mastermind behind the hoardings,” said Samant.

Reacting to Samant’s statement, Sena UBT leader Anil Parab said, “We will support any inquiry against Bhinde. Ego Media has never given us ads. I demand action against Bhinde. At the same time, the government must also take action against people responsible for the deaths of people in Kharghar last year – friends of CM Eknath Shinde are being shielded. Merely showing pictures with our leaders does not signify anything.”

(Input by Yogesh Naik)

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