A MURDER for which he was arrested 25 years ago could come back to haunt a sitting legislator from Thane district, after one of the key accused in the case was arrested by the Thane Crime Branch Friday. While the arrested accused has so far claimed no knowledge of the conspirators, the police have time till January 4 to extract information out of him.
A Thane Crime Branch officer said one Balaram Mhatre, 45, was killed in 1990 at the height of a gang war in Thane. The gangs, one led by Ramchandra Bhagat alias ‘Pintya dada’ and the other by Govardhan Mhatre alias ‘Gaurya dada’, would often target each other. Bhagat, along with his men, reportedly managed to murder Govardhan near Thane’s Aaradhna cinema, in 1980.
To extract revenge, Govardhan’s brother Balaram Mhatre reportedly paid Dawood Ibrahim gang’s shooter Mohammad Kalia and others to eliminate Ramchandra. In 1983, Ramchandra was killed in the Reti Bandar area of Mumbra. For the next seven years, there were reportedly repeated scuffles between Bhagat’s family members and Balaram’s gang.
In 1990, the rival gang managed to get Balaram murdered. The police, during the probe, had arrested three persons but had to let them go since the main shooter, one Vijay Singh, along with his accomplice was missing. As they could not gather any evidence against the trio, among them a man now a sitting legislator in Thane district, the case was relegated to the background.
The Thane Crime Branch, however, recently received information about Vijay Singh residing in UP. A team led by senior inspector Nitin Thakre reached Aurav village in UP and found Vijay Singh alias Anil Ramsagar Chaube, now the village sarpanch there. Following a trap, the police arrested him and brought him to the city.
“He claims that he does not know who paid the money for the hit. He maintains that it was his accomplice who knew the people behind the murder conspiracy,” Thakre told The Indian Express. A local court sent Singh to police custody till January 4.
The officer added that if Singh confirmed the name of the legislator as having been involved in the case, they would call him for questioning. Even getting leads on other accomplices will help them in further unravelling the case, said an officer privy to the investigation.