An NCP MLA, Sangram Jagtap, was arrested on Sunday, a day after two Shiv Sena leaders were shot at and hacked to death in Kedgaon in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district. As tension flared after the murders, the Ahmednagar Police also booked Sangram’s father and NCP MLC Arun Jagtap and his father-in-law and BJP MLA Shivaji Kardiley among 30 others for murder.
The brutal attack on the two Shiv Sena leaders — Sanjay Kotkar, the deputy chief of the Ahmednagar city unit, and Vasant Thube — was reported hours after the results of a civic bypoll were announced on Saturday in Kedgaon. During the campaign for Ward 32 (Kedgaon) bypoll, police had had to intervene twice after workers from the two rival political parties clashed in the region.
On Saturday, at around 6.15 pm, as Kotkar and Thube were on a motorcycle, two bike-borne assailants chased them and first shot at Kotkar. He fell off the bike and was attacked with a sharp weapon, police said. Thube, who tried to flee from the spot, was chased by the assailants and shot dead, according to police.
As the news of the brutal attack on Shiv Sena leaders spread, tension prevailed and hundreds of Shiv Sainiks resorted to vandalism. Later on Saturday, a murder suspect, Sandeep Gunjal, surrendered and also handed over the firearms and sharp weapons reportedly used in the murder. He allegedly told the police that he had murdered the two Shiv Sena leaders because of personal rivalry.
But based on a complaint filed by Sanjay Kotkar’s son and the subsequent investigation, police booked 30 people for murder and arrested NCP MLA Sangram Jagtap.
Deputy superintendent of police Akshay Shinde told The Indian Express, “We have arrested MLA Sangram Jagtap and three others in connection with the murder as of now. More arrests will be made.” The others booked included Sangram’s father Arun Jagtap, an NCP MLC, his father-in-law and BJP MLA Shivaji Kardiley and Sandeep Kotkar, the former mayor of Ahmednagar.
A police officer said that the accused, though from different political parties, supported the Congress candidate Vishal Kotkar. However, Sanjay Kotkar of Shiv Sena, who was murdered, had received threats for contesting the elections. Vishal Kotkar from the Congress won the bypoll by fewer than 500 votes.
On Sunday, when Sangram Jagtap was brought to the office of superintendent of police of Ahmednagar, hundreds of his supporters ransacked the office. DSP Shinde said, “The situation was tense in some areas after the incident, but it is now under control after the police deployment.”
Late on Sunday, senior inspector Abhay Parmar, in-charge of the Kotwali police station in Ahmednagar was suspended pending an inquiry into the alleged failure of the police machinery in maintaining law and order. Other senior police officials in Ahmednagar district may also face an inquiry for the same, sources said.
Senior Shiv Sena leaders Ramdas Kadam, Deepak Kesarkar and Diwakar Raote visited Ahmednagar after the incident. Top police officials including the Inspector General Vinoykumar Choubey and additional director general of police Bipin Bihari visited the district to monitor the situation.