The motorcycle allegedly used as getaway vehicle by the killers of former BJP MLA Jayanti Bhanushali was found abandoned by a head constable in Kutch, but he did not put it on police records and handed it over to the accused, “not knowing it would be used in the crime”, the police have said. The constable, Jenti Maheshwari, was suspended late Thursday on charges of “dereliction of duty”. The police said there is no evidence linking him directly to the murder conspiracy, so he has not been arrested.
The alleged shooters, Shashikant Kambley and Ashraf Sheikh, both residents of Pune, were arrested from Gujarat’s Dang district earlier this month.
Bhanushali, 56, a former BJP MLA, was shot dead on board Sayajinagari Express train while it was between Gandhidham and Samakhiyali in Kutch district on January 8. He was headed for Ahmedabad from Bhuj.
Chhabil Patel, a fellow BJP leader, was arrested from Ahmedabad airport on March 14, soon after his return from the US. Director General, CID-Crime, Ashish Bhatia, had said that during interrogation Patel admitted that he got Bhanushali killed over an ongoing rivalry.
Kutch (West) Superintendent of Police Saurabh Tolumbia had directed Bhuj Deputy SP J N Panchal to conduct an inquiry against head constable Maheshwari after receiving instructions from the office of the state DGP.
Tolumbia told The Indian Express on Friday: “The inquiry revealed that the constable did not make any entry into police records after recovering the unclaimed bike from Gadhshisha area around a year ago. He also made personal use of the bike, which is serious dereliction of duty. He then handed over the vehicle to people accused in this case. We have suspended him with immediate effect.”
Bhatia said the suspended policeman had pleaded ignorance about the murder conspiracy. “There is not enough evidence to arrest him. The criminal liability lies with people who used the bike in committing the murder as well as those who arranged for the bike,” he said.
Earlier, an SIT probe had concluded that Chhabil Patel had allegedly hired the two shooters to kill Bhanushali over political rivalry. The investigators said Patel allegedly got suspended constable Maheshwari to give the unclaimed bike to the alleged shooters to be used as getaway vehicle after shooting Bhanushali.