Till his arrest,he would not allow anyone to enter his fortress,heavily guarded and protected by a 15-foot-high gate,unless his or credentials were established. Since he was arrested from that den in Bycullas Dagdi Chawl,his political might has no longer been what it was.
Arun Gawli,underworld don-turned-politician,was arrested by the Mumbai police in 2008 in a case of extortion and murder. Last week a sessions court held him guilty in this case,one of several he faces,involving the murder of Shiv Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar.
The court is expected to pronounce its sentence on him on Monday. The police plan to press for capital punishment while Gawlis lawyers say they will seek leniency on the ground that Gawli has an ailing mother and that he too is unwell.
Lodged in Arthur Road central since his arrest,Gawli has seen his Akhil Bharatiya Sena cut to size. Today it supports the Sena-BJP combine in Mumbais municipal corporation,BMC,when its leader has been arrested for the murder of a Sena corporator.
Once,Gawli was known as daddy or a local Robin Hood among his admirers. He had been the point person for resolving any local problem. He was dreaded as a local goon in the early 1990s and even after he entered politics,his brushes with the law continued. A total of 78 people have been arrested from his gang since 2002. The final blow to his might came when he was arrested with 12 others for the murder.
A low-profile corporator,Jamsandekar had been elected for a third consecutive term from ward 152 in the 2007 Mumbai municipal elections. He was killed soon after the poll. His ward is represented in the city hall by his wife,Komal who was elected as a Sena corporator in this years polls.
Jamdsandekar was murdered allegedly because of his business and political rivalry with two men,Bala Surve and Sahebrao Bhintale. Surve died last month while Bhintale has been convicted of conspiracy and murder. For Surve and Bhintale,it was allegedly a fight to get hold of a prime plot in Saki Naka in the northwestern suburbs. For Gawli,it was yet another contract killing, said a police officer.
Gawli had no personal stakes apart from the alleged payment. He was paid Rs 30 lakh for the contract killing, special public prosecutor Raja Thakre has argued before the court.
Eventually,Gawlis own men turned against him and helped police build a case of murder. Sandip Gagan,who worked as a peon at Gawlis party office,is one of the six who confessed to Gawlis role. And Ashok Kumar Jaiswar,one of the three persons who had allegedly gone to shoot Jamsandiker,claimed he had taken up the assignment on Gawlis orders.
In many of the other cases he faces,Gawli has been acquitted for want of evidence. He is being tried in an extortion case and one of an assault on a journalist,who had allegedly asked him uncomfortable questions during a press briefing. The assault case proved crucial in invoking the stringent special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act against him and his aides in 2008. Two chargesheets are necessary for MCOCA and the assault served that purpose. The other chargesheet was filed in the extortion case.
Gawli has got bail in the extortion case. The assault case is still pending before the Mazgaon Magistrate court. Two other cases are pending in the city civil court,his lawyers confirmed.
In his absence,his party is being handled by his family. The party has two corporators,Vandana Gawli (Gawlis sister-in-law) and Geeta Gawli (his daughter). Vandana is chairman of the BMCs public health committee,a position she won with the BJP-Senas support.