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Is this a new era of gang war?

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Once upon a time, the Mumbai underworld was decoyed in an organised crime. Mumbai is the largest city in India and also its financial capital. Over the period of time, several counterparts have dominated the city’s underworld.

Arun Gawli or Arun Gulab Ahir is an Indian politician, underworld don, and a former gangster.  Gawli and his brother Kishor (Pappa) entered the Mumbai underworld in the 1970s when they joined the “Byculla Company”, a criminal gang led by Rama Naik and Babu Reshim, operating in the central Mumbai areas of Byculla, Parel and Saat Rasta. In 1988, after Rama Naik was killed in a police encounter, Gawli took over the gang and began operating it from his residence, Dagdi Chawl.

Under his control, the gang controlled most criminal activities in the central Mumbai areas. Throughout the late eighties and nineties, Gawli’s gang was involved in a power struggle with Dawood Ibrahim’s D-Company gang. Gawli is also the founder of the Akhil Bharatiya Sena political party based in Maharashtra. Gawli got political patronage in the 1980s when the then Shiv Sena chief, Bal Thackeray, criticised the Mumbai police for taking stringent action against Hindu gangsters like Arun Gawli and Sai Bansod, referring to them as ‘amchi muley’ (our boys). Thackeray was challenged by a rival gangster in an open letter carried on the front page of a city tabloid. However, Gawli fell out with Shiv Sena in the mid-1990s, murdered Shiv Sena men and formed his own political party, the Akhil Bharatiya Sena.

In 2004, Gawli was elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Mumbai’s Chinchpokli constituency as an Akhil Bharatiya Sena candidate. Gawli’s rise to prominence is believed to be due to his “native roots” as a local lad, which makes him distinct from most other non-Marathi-speaking politicians.

Gawli’s daughter Geeta was elected as a corporator to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The only underworld don who never absconded from the country, he very well stayed here and gave a tough fight in spite of being in jail. Nowadays, Shiv Sena leaders are randomly killed in each part of Maharashtra, as if the gang war has returned. No one knows the reason why and who is killing him or her; in some murder cases the BJP leaders are arrested, but police remain clueless in most of the cases.

Unidentified assailants stabbed former Shiv Sena corporator Ashok Sawant to death outside his house in Kandivali. Sixty-two-year-old Sawant, a two-time corporator, is the brother of assistant police commissioner Subhash Sawant, who is attached to the anti-terrorism squad. Sawant the Cop was instrumental in many underworld encounters. The incident took place when Ashok Sawant was returning home after meeting a friend. Two men, who had been waiting in a vehicle outside his house in Sur building in Samata Nagar, accosted him and attacked him with choppers before fleeing. One of the accused, Jagga, is a well-known criminal. Sawant had got into a cable TV business a few years ago.

Two other Shiv Sena leaders, including the deputy leader of the party’s Ahmednagar unit, were shot dead in Ahmednagar’s Kedgaon area. Two people attacked Sanjay Kotkar, deputy chief of the city unit, and party leader Vasant Thube. Both were killed on the spot. Reports suggest that they were first shot at and later killed with sharp weapons.

The partly burnt body of a Shiv Sena functionary Shailesh Nimse was found in a village in Shahapur taluka of Thane. Nimse was the deputy vice-president of the Sena’s Shahapur taluka unit. He was murdered and the body was burnt to destroy evidence. Passersby near the Devchola village found his body.

The head of a unit of the Sena, Ramesh Jadhav, reportedly attempted to resolve an argument between two groups outside his house in suburban Malad when he was attacked. The attacker, an individual identified only as Sohail, stabbed Jadhav with a sharp object resulting in injuries to the neck and though he was taken to a hospital, the party activist succumbed to his injuries.

On October 19, 2014, another Shiv Sena worker was shot dead by unidentified persons at Punavale near Pune. Raju Dashile, a local unit chief, was sitting outside his office when some unidentified persons opened fire at him and fled, sources said. Since 2014, many Shiv Sainiks across Maharashtra were brutally attacked, killed and murdered. Surprisingly, Uddhav Thackeray and Sanjay Raut both are silent on these ongoing killings of Sainiks.

On Sunday night, Sachin Sawant, a former deputy shakha pramukh of the Shiv Sena was shot dead. The unidentified shooters shot three rounds at Sawant and then fled from the spot on a two-wheeler. Earlier, on April 7, two Sena leaders — Sanjay Kotkar and Vasant Thube were shot and stabbed to death in the Kedgaon area of Ahmednagar, followed by the brutal murder of Sena worker, Shailesh Nimse from Bhiwandi taluka. Meanwhile, the initial probe into the murder of Nimse, who was set ablaze in Bhiwandi in a bid to prevent his identification, had revealed that there were two masked men seen escorting him to the location where his body was found. No one knows where is this going to end! Why are Shiv Sainiks under attack? Who is their rival, or is it a new era of gang war?

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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