Ramvilas Nagori admits his son Manish Nagori, an alleged arms dealer, is “criminal-minded”, but he refuses to believe his involvement in the murder of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar in Pune on August 20 last year.
A resident of Priyadarshini Colony of Sangli Naka in Ichalkaranji, Ramvilas says he was shocked to know that the police arrested Manish for the murder of Dabholkar.
“I will not say that my son is an innocent person. He is my only son. He was supposed to be our support in old age. But still I had forced him out of our house because of his involvement in criminal activities about two years ago. However, I am sure he has nothing to do with the Dabholkar murder case. Police have arrested him due to the growing political pressure and unrest among the masses. Police should understand that Dabholkar’s murder is not an ordinary case. Police should not bother about political pressures and go on arresting wrong persons. Arresting a wrong person means giving a clean chit to actual killers,” says Ramvilas.
Manish is an SSC dropout. His family has been into cloth business for many years. Ramvilas wanted him to start some business. Manish even started a mobile phone shop in Ichalkaranji area. But he later came in contact with criminal elements, says Ramvilas.
“Manish came in contact with Navneet Sharma, a history-sheeter previously arrested in a murder case. Manish also got dragged into criminal activities then. I wanted him to do some good business. But he entered into the business of illegal weapons. So we asked him to leave home. He was first arrested in Rajasthan in possession of illegal firearms. Now, he is being probed by the Thane police, ATS and the Pune police. While speaking to me, the police did say that he could be a weapon dealer, but he is not a murderer,” says Ramvilas.
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“Manish and Vikas Khandelwal were arrested by the Thane police for an extortion case in Mumbra on August 20. Mumbra police had been keeping a watch on him and his aides since August 17. Mumbra police have their cell phone call locations. It shows they were not in Pune. So we are sure they are not linked to Dabholkar case. I will fight in court to prove their innocence,” he says.
Ramvilas had met with a road accident in Mumbai about a month ago and sustained injuries. “I could not come to Pune because I am not feeling well,” he says.
According to the Kolhapur police, Manish Nagori developed contacts with inter-state criminals and became a dreaded illegal firearms dealer. The Kolhapur police had booked him under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) for his alleged links with Sanjay Tehsildar gang, involved in crimes like murder and firearms trade. Manish’s name also cropped up during the investigation in the murder of gangster Bharat Tyagi. The police said Manish had supplied firearms to the murderers of Tyagi in July 2013.
A resident of Sangram chowk in Ichalkaranji, Ramavtar Khandelwal, father of suspect Vikas Khandelwal, says the story “cooked up” by the Pune police that a pistol recovered from his son and the one used in the murder of Dabholkar was same left him “shocked”.
“We are into textile-related business. Vikas is an HSC pass and he used to help me in our business. There was an extortion case against him, but it was following a dispute among family members. He was never connected to any criminal gangs. He had no other criminal history till he came in contact with Manish Nagori,” says Ramavtar.
“Vikas left home due a dispute with the family a few months ago. And then he was arrested along with Manish by the Mumbra police. He had nothing against Dabholkar and the anti-superstition movement. He was arrested only because he was accompanying Manish. He used to visit Manish’s mobile shop. We believe, after leaving home, he came close to Manish,” he adds.
“Police have arrested Vikas in connection with Dabholkar’s murder. But he was in Thane on the day Dabholkar was murdered.
Even the ATS had probed him for Dabholkar’s murder after arresting him in an Arms Act case. The ATS officers told us that he was not involved in the Arms Act case. Officers said they would be using Section 169 of the Criminal Procedure Code for discharging him from the Arms Act case. Also, he had no links at all with the murder in University of Pune and Hinjewadi,” he says.