Ahmedabad: The Gujarat police has arrested two key accused in the murder of former BJP legislator Jayanti Bhanushali from Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday taking the total number of arrests in the case to eleven with one suspect still on the run.
With the arrest of Manisha Goswami and Surjit Bhau almost 11 months after Bhanushali, who was also a former state BJP vice-president, was shot dead in a running train, investigators hope to lift the curtains on a sensational murder replete with political rivalry, monetary dealings, sex and sleaze.
The 53-year-old BJP leader was shot dead in a moving train near Samakhiyali station of Kutch district on January 8. Another former BJP leader, Chhabil Patel was arrested on charges of eliminating his political rival. According to the police, Manisha had helped Chhabil engage hired hands to execute the killing.
The killing is believed to be the outcome of simmering political and business rivalry between the two, with both facing allegations of rape and blackmail. Bhanushali had to quit his post because of the charge though it was withdrawn after a court-ratified settlement.
The case is also evidence of how grassroots politics is impacted when long-term political rivals are forced to share the same turf through defections, creating clashes with grievous consequences.
Bhanushali, who is also a former MLA, was shot dead in his sleep on January 7 while travelling in a train from Bhuj to Ahmedabad. He was killed by two masked men who then detrained. Examination of two used and three live cartridges from the spot indicated the use of a country-made pistol.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted post-haste by DGP Shivanand Jha to crack the case. According to the police, the killing was a political murder, allegedly masterminded by Chhabil Patel and a woman, Manisha Goswami, who was since on the run.
Forty days after the murder, Ashish Bhatia, the then DGP CID, had announced the arrest of the two alleged killers, identified as Shashikant Kamble and Ashraf Anwar Sheikh. They were nabbed from a government tourist guest house at Saputara hill station bordering Maharashtra, according to the top cop. He said they were given a Rs 30-lakh contract by Patel to liquidate Bhanushali.