Dayanand Salian alias Pujari, a member of the Arun Gawli gang, who was missing after getting bail in the murder case of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s brother-in-law Ismail Parkar 22 years ago, was arrested by the Unit-7 of Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch after a trap was laid for him at Kanjurmarg in eastern suburbs. Now that Pujari has been arrested and if he testifies against Gawli, as in the capacity that his statement points out the involvement of Gawli in the murder of Ismail Parker, many political Pandits suspect that this arrest might be a well-planned agenda against Arun Gawli’s political plan during 2019.
Unit-7 police told media that Pujari was arrested in 1993 and got bail in 1996. He then fled the city and went to Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, where he had been working as a cook in dhabas and restaurants under a fake name. He was apprehended on his way to meet his parents with whom he hadn’t been in contact since absconding. Crime Branch police official on the condition of anonymity told AV, “The gangster was arrested on the tip of a D-Company gang that is active in UP. Otherwise, this arrest wouldn’t have been possible. There are speculations that this surprising arrest ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, may be to weaken Arun Gawli’s stand during 2019 elections.”
Pujari was wanted in serious crimes like murder and attempt to murder carried out at the behest of the Gawli gang. He was arrested by the Nagpada police in connection with the 1991 murder of Ismail Parkar, Ibrahim’s brother-in-law. Ismail Parkar was the husband of Haseena Parkar – Ibrahim’s sister, who recently died of heart attack. Gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli is under life imprisonment in the murder case of Shiv Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar and has been serving the sentence since August 31, 2012. His party, Akhil Bharatiya Sena (ABS), meanwhile, holds on to a corporation seat for three terms while losing another in 2017 elections after two terms with the defeat of Vandana Gawli, his sister-in-law.
Arun Gawli’s long absence of eight years has already curbed the prospect of growth of the party. However, his daughter and ABS corporator Geeta Gawli, has managed to acquire the post of the Chairman of the Civic Health Committee and also a membership of the Civic Standing Committee. Facing competition from the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen, ABS is still trying to hold on to its stronghold in Central Mumbai. Speaking about the arrest of Dayanand Pujari, Geeta Gawli told AV, “The arrest of Dayanand Pujari has nothing to do with Arun Gawli. This would not affect our party or Gawli’s political career. Hence, there should not be any controversy made over it.”
In the last elections held in 2017, the ABS led by Geeta Gawli chose to support the BJP and won a single seat in the election, that of corporator Geeta Gawli herself, even after launching candidates in around 24 constituencies. Though Geeta Gawli claimed later, had the Shiv Sena supported her earlier, the chances of winning seats would have been more. With the upcoming elections, the support of ABS might be crucial for any party to win, as the rise of Arun Gawli the politician can be alluded to the his native roots, which had earned him a popularity in the Marathi community as he won his membership to the Legislative Assembly in 2004. With his Robin Hood-like image, Gawli and ABS might still make a comeback. In such circumstances, the arrest of Pujari holds lots of political significance. With the arrest of Pujari, the murder case of Ismail Parker can be re-opened and if Pujari becomes an approver and stands against Gawli, it is going to be tough for the Don-turned-politician to make a comeback, as Criminal Lawyer and Political Analyst Pankaj Jadhav points out, “Arun Gawli has already been sentenced to life imprisonment in the Corporator Jamshandekar case, now if Pujari gives his statement stating Gawli’s involvement in Ibrahim Parker’s murder, then Gawli will face trouble in the court trials and probably, if we look into the political scenario, this arrest may have been made at this time to create obstacles in Gawli’s political plans for 2019.”
As such speculations are doing rounds, MNS leader Prakash Pawar thinks these cannot affect the erstwhile underworld’s “Daddy’s” political repute. In a conversation with AV, Prakash Pawar says, “Since Dayanand Pujari has been arrested after so many years, there would hardly be any connection between him and Arun Gawli. The gang wars have been a thing of the past. Many things have changed. I don’t think any of his statements will have any impact on Arun Gawli’s political career. But since the elections are nearby, Arun Gawli might face a bit of problem since the people who want to make political gains from such topics in times of election will try to do so.”
Nonetheless, only time can say about Gawli’s stand in the upcoming elections which majorly depends on the statement of Pujari.
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