Arun Gawli’s aide set to testify against him in extortion caseUpdated: Dec 06, 2019 01:05 IST
A close aide of gangster Arun Gawli will testify against him in a 2008 extortion case before a trial court in the city today. Gawli, who is serving a life term at Yerawada jail for the murder of Shiv Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar in March 2007, has been attending the ongoing hearing via video conference and has sought to be present in person before the court today. This is the last of the almost 50 cases against Gawli, who was arrested in 2008. In today’s case, the gangster faces charges of extorting money from a builder in the central suburbs.
Hindustan Times, which is in possession of the confession, is not naming the aide or the builder because of the threat perception involved for both witnesses.
Born to a mill worker’s family, the aide said he was brought up in Dagdi chawl, considered to be Gawli’s den, till 1996. “The name of Gawli struck fear in the area,” stated the aide-turned-approver. After he and his brother got married, he moved out of Dagdi chawl with his wife, but would visit his brother who continued to live in their father’s house.
During his visits to the chawl, he would meet Gawli and his younger brother Vijay Ahir.
The aide, who used to be a Central government employee, stated that Ahir would get information about any dispute that happened between builders on their turf and tenants. Based on the information, Gawli used to run his business of extortion.
“In October 2005, Gawli called me and gave me a telephone number of a builder. Gawli ordered me to call the builder and ask him to come to Dagdi chawl. I tried to call the builder four to five times, but could not reach him. Gawli then asked me to leave a message in the builder’s office that in case he fails to turn up, he will be killed,” the aide said in his confessional statement. The aide made the call and informed Gawli and Ahir.
A month later, Ahir asked him to make another call, asking the builder to come to Dagdi chawl the next day or else “aamhi tumhala dhagat pathau” [I’ll send you to clouds]. The next day at 6pm, the builder came to the chawl and the aide was asked to keep a close eye on the builder. After the builder left the chawl, a man named Sanjay Kambli, who was asked to keep an eye on every move of the builder, told Gawli there was no problem as the builder had come alone and left on his own.
After a couple of days, Gawli again asked his aide to call the builder the next day at 12 noon. The builder reached the chawl at the given time and the aide escorted him to a room on the ground floor of Gawli’s building.
“I went to the third floor to inform Gawli about the builder. Gawli asked me to accompany Ahir to talk to the builder. Ahir told the builder that other builders were paying Gawli ₹50 lakh and that he should at least pay ₹25 lakh. The builder said he was unable to pay the amount, to which Ahir said he will have to pay ₹10 lakh immediately. A deal was struck between them and the builder left,” the aide said.
Between December 2005 and May 2006, the builder gave the aide ₹7 lakh in four instalments. Of the money, Ahir gave the aide ₹50,000 and another ₹50,000 to Kambli, who kept a watch on Gawli. Ahir kept ₹2 lakh for himself and gave Gawli ₹4 lakh.
During the Navratri festival in 2006, Gawli again asked the aide to collect ₹1 lakh from the builder, which he gave. Then in 2008, the episode was repeated. The aide called the builder at the behest of Gawli once again. But this time, the builder had already approached the crime branch.
A team of crime branch officers arrested the aide and one of Gawli’s musclemen, Dinesh Narkar alias Dinya. It went on to be the first case where Gawli was arrested from his residence.