Mumbai’s underworld don-turned-politician Arun Gawli,who was sentenced to life imprisonment last week for the murder of a Shiv Sena corporator,used his political outfit Akhil Bhartiya Sena (ABS) as a front to gather information about construction activity,target builders and cable operators and for extortion,a former aide has said.
The aide,Sandip Gangan,who was also sentenced to life in prison for the murder,mentioned this in his confessional statement which was accepted by the Special MCOCA court which tried the case. Gangan confessed to a magistrate but sought to retract it in court during the trial,which is not allowed under MCOCA. Copies of the judgment were given to the convicts on Wednesday.
Gawli floated ABS in 1996-97 and his daughter Gita and sister-in-law Vandana are corporators,supporting the ruling Sena-BJP alliance in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
According to Gangans statement,ABS workers informed Gawli about construction activity after which builders were summoned to his Gitai building. There is a special room known as Bhajanachi Kholi,which means a room for singing bhajans. There,Gawli and his henchmen used to extort money from them, Gangan is quoted as saying. Those who failed to pay up were assaulted by Gawlis men,Gangan has claimed.
Judge Prithviraj Chavan observed that since Gangan and the other accused did not retract their statements before the magistrate who recorded it,there was no room to doubt that their confessions were voluntary. It appears that the organised crime syndicate of Gawli was involved in continuing unlawful activities and were committing organised crime for gaining undue economic benefits by extorting builders,cable operators etc, the judge said.
The court said the case was not fit for the death penalty. But Gawli could not be shown leniency as I have not found any repentance on his face, the judge said.