Mumbai: Two members of gangster Arun Gulab Gawli’s family and his political party Akhil Bhartiya Sena (ABS) joined Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena on Saturday night.
At the time of going to press, Vandanatai Pradip Gawli and youth leader Pradip Gulab Gawli were waiting to meet Shinde. It is reliably learnt that the other members of Gawli’s family are in talks with the BJP.
2019 MCOCA case against gangster Arun Gawli
The Bombay High Court had in December 2019 confirmed conviction of gangster Arun Gawli under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and upheld his life sentence for the murder of Shiv Sena corporator Kamalakar Jamshandekar, who was shot dead in March 2007 outside his Ghatkopar residence. The court had observed that ABS functioned as an “organised criminal syndicate” whose continued criminal activities resulted in the crime.
The court found Gawli had received Rs30 lakh as payment to carry out the hit on Jamsandekar by his rivals Sahebrao Bhintade, Sadashiv Surve and Ajit Rane, an ABS worker, whom he had defeated in the 2007 civic elections. The MCOCA special trial court had convicted him for the murder in 2012 and he has been in jail since his arrest in 2008.
Gawlis association with Byculla Company
Gawli and his brother Kishor 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 Raasta, supervising illicit hooch dens. In 1988, after Naik was killed in a police encounter, Gawli took over the gang and began operating it from his residence Dagdi Chawl and controlled most criminal activities in the central Mumbai area.
Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, Gawli’s gang was involved in a power struggle with gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s D-Company. The Mumbai police raided the premises of Dagdi Chawl several times and broke Gawli’s underworld operations in the late 1990s, arresting him several times and detaining him for long periods during the trial. He could not be convicted in most cases as witnesses would not depose against him for fear of retaliation.
Gawli got political patronage in the 1980s, when the then Shiv Senachief, late Balasaheb Thackeray, criticised the Mumbai police for taking stringent action against Hindu gangsters like Gawli and Sai Bansod, referring to them as ‘Amchi Mulgey’ (our boys).
Gawli fell out with the Shiv Sena in the mid-1990s after the murder of Jamshandekar and formed ABS. In 2004, he was elected as MLA from the Chinchpokli constituency of Central Mumbai as an ABS candidate, rising on his “native roots” as a local lad distinct from most other non-Marathi speaking politicians.
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