CONTROVERSIAL BUILDER Kamlesh Ramani and two others allegedly shot a firearm at his former aide Chetan Rathod over a monetary dispute in the wee hours of Tuesday. Rathod escaped unhurt.
Police have booked the builder for attempt to murder under the IPC as well as the Arms Act and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, as Rathod belongs to the Scheduled Caste. The accused are on the run.
Ramani is facing around a dozen criminal cases, including charges of rape, forgery, criminal intimidation and assault. He was arrested in March for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to throw acid on the face of a woman who had filed a complaint of rape against him last year. But police said that he was subsequently granted bail.
University police said that Ramani and two other unidentified men who were driving in a car with him opened fire on Rathod near a petrol pump on University Road around 12:30 am on Tuesday after a heated argument on the phone. In his complaint, Rathod said he used to work as Ramani’s driver till around one-and-a-half years ago but had quit as the builder did not pay his dues.
Rathod, who is a resident of Wambe Awas Yojana on Kalavad Road of the city, said he dialled Ramani late Monday night asking for his dues, and that the builder asked him to meet him at the petrol pump on University Road.
Police said 28-year-old Rathod, who is a native of Surendranagar district, went to the petrol pump with his friend Ravi Vala, riding a scooter. “However, as Ramani and two other men driving with him in a car approached us, I felt they would attack me. Therefore I escaped on my scooter even as I heard the noise of firing with an intent to kill me,” Rathod said in his complaint.
University police have booked Ramani and two unidentified persons for attempt to murder, under Arms Act and under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. They have also been booked for criminal intimidation.
“We have done panchnama (evidence collection and recording) of the crime scene but have not recovered any used cartridge or bullet so far,” Assistant Commissioner of Police (SC/ST Cell) of Rajkot city police, SD Patel, told The Indian Express. “We have also analysed CCTV footage of the incident. No noise or sound of any firing is audible prima facie. But we shall take the help of forensic experts to ascertain if there is any noise of firing in the footage.”
The ACP said that the alleged assault was a fallout of a dispute between Rathod and Ramani. “We have recorded the statement of Rathod in which he has said that he had given an application to University police earlier too about dues Ramani owes him,” he said. “(Rathod also said) that Ramani had asked him to go to the petrol pump for a compromise. However, the complainant felt threatened and ran away from the place. As a matter of fact, both Ramani and Rathod have criminal antecedents.”
Top police sources said the government has cancelled Ramani’s arms licence but his wife still holds one.
ACP Patel said that two other persons who were accompanying Ramani on Tuesday have been identified as his present driver Mayur Rupareliya and one Kishan.