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Pune police say Bishnoi gang has ‘footprints in Maharashtra’, arrest man named in Moosewala murder

According to the police, Santosh Jadhav, 23, was hiding in a Gujarat village by changing his looks. His aide has also been arrested.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune |
Updated: June 13, 2022 7:58:49 pm
Sidhu Moosewala murder, Moosewala murder, Pune police, Moosewala murder suspect arrested, Pune news, Indian expressMoosewala was shot dead in Mansa district on May 29. (File)

The Pune Rural police have arrested 23-year-old Santosh Jadhav, whose name recently surfaced as a shooter in the Sidhu Moosewala murder case, from a small village in Kutch, where he had been hiding by changing his appearance.

Police probe has revealed that the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, which is suspected to be behind Moosewala’s murder, has its footprint in Maharashtra too.

Last week, the names of Jadhav, 23, and another Pune resident, Siddhesh Kamble (19) alias Saurav alias Mahakal, had cropped up in the Moosewala murder case. The Pune Rural police, who were already searching for Jadhav in a murder case from August 2021, intensified their manhunt, and arrested him from Pune Ahmednagar district border on June 7.

Several Pune Rural police were dispatched to various places in Punjab, Delhi and Gujarat to search for Jadhav. Following the information gathered during Mahakal’s interrogation and also inputs obtained by ground-level intelligence gathering, the team in Gujarat zeroed down on a suspect identified as Navnath Suryavanshi (27), who hails from Satara district of Maharashtra and had been living in Mandvi town of Kutch.

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Questioning of Suryavanshi, who is a friend of Jadhav, revealed the latter’s location to a small village near Mandvi with less than 100 households. On Sunday, a police team of Pune rural police arrested Jadhav, who had shaved his head to change his appearance. Police have said that Suryavanshi was the one who helped Jadhav into hiding.

“Jadhav had distinct curly hair. But he seems to have changed his appearance to avoid being identified,” said Pune Rural Superintendent of Police Abhinav Deshmukh.

Jadhav and Suryavanshi were produced before a court in Pune around the intervening midnight of Sunday and Monday. The two were remanded in Pune rural police’s custody till June 20.

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Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Kulwant Kumar Sarangal said, “Primary information suggests that Jadhav and two others — Suryavanshi and Mahakal — have links to the Lawrence Bishnoi gang. We also suspect that they are linked to the Moosewala murder. So far, we only had the custody of Mahakal. Now that we have secured the custody of Jadhav and Suryavanshi, we will probe how they came to be linked to the Bishnoi gang and whether they had any plans in Maharashtra.”

Sarangal added, “We know that following direction from the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, Mahakal had done the recce for some targets in Punjab and Haryana. The Bishnoi gang is a pan-India outfit and has footprints in Maharashtra too. That is why we are coordinating with the police from Punjab and Delhi. We suspect more persons in Maharashtra might be linked to the outfit.”

When asked about how these youths from Pune came in contact with the Bishnoi gang, Sarangal said, “Probe suggests that Mahakal was in contact with Jadhav and with his help he had gone to Punjab and Haryana in the past. And through Santosh, he came in contact with Vikram Brar, who is a core member of the Bishnoi gang. Now the interrogation of Jadhav will reveal how the gang made contacts with these people, and for what purpose.”

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When asked about the questioning of Mahakal in connection with the threat letter sent to actor Salman Khan and his father Salim Khan, Sarangal said, “He has given some information, which we are verifying. Primary probe suggests Mahakal was aware of the threat issued to Salman Khan. We will also question Jadhav and Suryavanshi about it. Our team is already in Delhi to interrogate Lawrence Bishnoi.”
Jadhav, who hails from the Pokhari village in the Pune district, was earlier wanted for the murder of criminal Onkar Bankhele alias Ranya, who was shot dead in Pune on August 1, 2021. Jadhav has many as five cases registered against him with the Pune Rural police, including those of murder, attempt to murder, and extortion. He has also been booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

Jadhav’s arrest by the Pune Rural police is for his role in the Bankhele murder, but he is also being probed for links to the the Moosewala case.

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First published on: 13-06-2022 at 07:57:03 pm

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