Nearly two months after a 43-year-old wine shopowner was shot dead at point-blank range by two persons and robbed of Rs 4 lakh in Goregaon, the Mumbai Police is still struggling to find the assailants. The deceased, Sajnish Singh Chawla, was returning home at night after closing his shop when at least two people approached him, shot him dead and fled with the money. What has further complicated the matter is that the location where the incident took place was a blind spot, not covered by CCTV cameras.
The incident took place on June 10 when Chawla, the owner of Goregaon wine shop and his assistant Kamlesh Yadav (30) had shut the shop around 11.15 pm and were walking towards Chawla’s car that had been parked 100 m from the scene of crime. Two men, who came on foot, stopped Chawla and brandished a pistol and demanded money, an officer said. One of the accused fired at his forehead, snatched the bag of cash from Yadav that had Rs 4 lakh and fled the spot. After the incident, the local Vanrai police registered a murder case and began a probe.
Inspector M Nimbalkar from Vanrai police station, who investigated the case, said the location where the firing took place was a blind spot. “We scanned cameras installed in the nearby areas but got no clue,” he said. An officer from the Crime Branch, which was conducting a parallel probe, said there was one camera mounted nearly 100 m from the spot, where only the legs of the two accused could be seen while they were fleeing.
While the police began probe in the matter as a case of “robbery gone wrong”, family members of the deceased had expressed doubts over the involvement of a former employee at the wine shop who had quit after a fall out with Chawla. “We investigated the possible involvement of the employee, but it did not appear to be the case. There were certain other doubts that the family had. We probed all the angles but so far, we have found nothing,” the officer said.
After they could not find any person who had been nursing a grudge against Chawla or stood to benefit from his death, a Crime Branch officer said, their working theory so far regarding the murder is that it was a “robbery gone wrong”. “Another important factor is that the ballistic report of the bullet retrieved from the crime scene suggested that it was fired from a 9 mm pistol. In several cases, we have seen those with criminal records using such firearms… We suspect it was a case of robbery,” an officer said. “Accordingly, we went through records of over 100 history-sheeters with cases of robbery against them and checked their whereabouts on the night of the incident. But nothing has come of it as yet,” the officer added. Sumit Chawla, brother of the deceased, said: “So far, the police have done all that they could, but nothing has come out of it. I have no complaints with their investigation.”