Five persons have been arrested in connection with the killing of NCP worker Rekha Jare in Ahmednagar district, the police said on Thursday.
Initially it seemed to be a case of road-rage, but it was found to be a premeditated killing and a journalist working with a regional daily who is suspected to be the mastermind is absconding, police said.
Jare (39), who headed Yashaswini Mahila Brigade, a woman's organization, was killed at Jategaon Phata in Parner tehsil on Monday evening by two motorcycle-borne men.
She was driving from Pune to Ahmednagar with her mother, son and friend.
The assailants had an altercation with her and slit her throat with sharp a weapon before fleeing from the spot, police said.
Jare died before being admitted to hospital.
On the complaint of her mother Sindhubai Waykar, an offence of murder was registered against unidentified persons at Supa Police Station.
Ahmednagar Superintendent of Police Manoj Patil had formed at least six teams of the local crime branch to crack the case.
Feroz Raju Shaikh (26), a suspect, was arrested from Rahuri, and his questioning led to the arrest of Dnyaneshwar Shinde (24) from Shrirampur and Aditya Cholke (25) from Rahta, said a police official.
Later, Sagar Bhingardive (31) was arrested from Kedgaon and Hrishikesh Pawar (23) from Pravara Nagar.
Bal Bothe, a local journalist, was suspected to be behind the conspiracy to murder Jare, the official said.
Bothe was absconding and a search was on for him, he added.