Three days after the broad daylight murder of NCP corporator Avinash Tekawade, tension in Mohannagar area of Pimpri-Chinchwad eased but fear among locals seemed to persist. Even as the police claimed they have moved swiftly and nabbed three persons in connection with the murder, locals said they are looking for a decisive action from the police as Mohannagar has long remained a hotbed of murderous assaults and gangwars.
Last week, unidentified persons had murdered first-time NCP corporator Avinash Chandrakant Tekawade (42). Tekawade, who had survived an earlier attack in 2013, had seven cases, including rioting and murder, against him. He was attacked with sharp weapons on the Ganesh Anjan society premises where he was staying in a rented flat.
The assailants threw chilli powder in his eyes and then stabbed him, leaving him in a pool of blood. They then fled the spot by jumping over the compound wall of the society.
In the last three days, Pimpri police have arrested three persons including “mastermind” Amol Wahile. The other two — Kishore Bhingarkar and Balaji Shinde — were arrested on Saturday. They have been remanded in police custody till September 10.
The arrests have eased tension in the area, but police remain on guard. “These arrests have brought us some relief, but there is a fear among people about the next such attack,” said an elderly resident of Mohannagar.
Maruti Bhapkar of Swaraj Abhiyan, who has been staying in Mohannagar for years, says, “The area has seen at least four murders in the past three-four years besides several assault cases.” He is a former corporators and has himself received several threats to life.
The brazenness with which Mohanagar youths carry out attack was exemplied a few years ago when they chased down a youngster for three kilometers from Mohannagar to YCM hospital and attacked him right on the hospital premises in the presence of police and security personnel.
“Youths from Mohannagar, Kalbhornagar, Bhosari, Kalewadi and Oota openly brandish swords and other sharp weapons. They also carry pistols as was apparent from the last week’s attack. Because of the availability of mobile phones, now you find youths ganging up in no time,” said Bhapkar. He said the Pimpri-Chinchwad police should focus hard on these areas and put the emboldened youths in place. “There seems to be no fear of police among youths,” he said.
Denying that the police have been lackadaisical in curbing goons in Pimpri-Chinchwad, Assistant Commissioner of Police Mohan Vidhate, who is well-versed with the crime scene of the industrial town, said, “It is wrong to say that police have failed to control criminals. In fact, I will say criminals are on the run because of the stringent action that we have initiated in recent times. In my division, we have slapped MCOCA on at least 34 goons. Under MCOCA, it is difficult to get bail as well as the conditions are very stringent,” said Vidhate.
Vidhate said the Mohannagar incident would not have happened had the corporator alerted them about the threat to his life. “Had he informed us in advance, we would have provided him security,” he said.
Vidhate said the police in Pimpri-Chinchwad are coming hard on criminals. “The situation has drastically changed from what it was a few years ago. It is true that some politically-motivated murders have taken place, but those are due to personal enmity,” he said.