Mumbai: A day after three men were killed in a fire inside a temple at Charkop in the wee hours of Sunday, police arrested a 20-year-old and detained a minor for arson leading to the triple murder. Police said that the arrested accused held a grudge against one of the deceased, Yuvraj Pawar, 24, who had recently assaulted the accused over a trivial issue. In a bid to exact revenge, the 20-year-old had set the temple on fire, using petrol. Police have booked and arrested him under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for murder, mischief with fire and common intention.
According to police, three close friends, identified as Yuvraj Pawar, Subhash Khode, 28, and Mahesh Gupta, 24, were sleeping inside the temple when a fire broke out in the early hours of Sunday. When locals saw the fire, they immediately reported the incident to the police and fire brigade. While both the agencies rushed to the spot, the trio was taken to Shatabdi Hospital, but doctors declared Khode, who worked at a garage and Pawar, a real estate agent, who had built the temple, dead on arrival. Gupta, who had sustained about 95 per cent burns, was shifted to the Sion hospital where he died during treatment, said police.
Police had prima facie registered three accidental death reports in the matter and suspected that a blast in the compressor of an air cooler or an electric short circuit was the cause of fire. A detailed probe, however, ruled out the possibility of an accidental fire and found evidence of arson. Preliminary investigation revealed that Yuvraj had previous enmity with a 20-year-old office assistant, Bhavesh Chandurkar, a resident of the same neighbourhood. The duo had recently been involved in an argument that had escalated into a fight.
Acting on this information, police began enquiries about the youth and discovered that Yuvraj and Bhavesh had been at loggerheads since a year-and-a-half. The latest incident occurred when Bhavesh refused to buy cigarettes for Yuvraj. In a fit of anger, Yuvraj had beaten him up and embarrassed him. Since then, Bhavesh had been keeping a close eye on Yuvraj's movements and had observed that he was sleeping inside the temple with two others.
Bhavesh, who was given a scooter by his office to commute during work, emptied the petrol tank and poured it in a can with the help of a juvenile friend. When Yuvraj and his two friends fell asleep, Bhavesh emptied the can in the temple and then lit a matchstick. The fire hit the compressor of the air cooler and backfired on Bhavesh as well, causing him injuries. Soon after the incident, Bhavesh went to the juvenile's home in Samta Nagar and then fled to Vaijapur. Based on technical evidence, Bhavesh and the minor were traced and brought to Mumbai.