HT Correspondent , Panvel, March 1, 2007
The Panvel police on Thursday arrested Santosh Gaikwad (23) and Hemant Isale (20) – both Bajrang Dal activists – on charges of murdering a youth, whose body was found tied to an electric pole on February 10. The duo allegedly saw the youth hiding behind a car and trying to open its door, and suspected him of being involved in car thefts that were taking place in the area.
A 25-year-old unidentified man was found tied to an electric pole on a road divider in sector 13 of New Panvel. The police had earlier registered a case of accidental death but later changed it to murder, stating that the youth was killed after being lynched by a mob. The police believed that a mob of local residents, weary of regular thefts in the area, had killed whom they believed to be the thief.
Giving details of the arrests, Assistant Commissioner of Police Vijay Surya said, "Both the accused are residents of the same area where the body was found. They had seen the youth hiding behind a car and trying to open its door. Since there have been several thefts in the area, the two called other residents and got hold of the youth. Then they tied him to the pole and thrashed him."
While Isale is a vegetable vendor, Gaikwad had a business of shooting marriage videos.
"There are a few more people also responsible for the act and we hope to get them soon," added Surya.
While the exact cause of the victim's death is awaited, Surya said, "Prima facie it appears that the youth may have died from his head banging on the pole. We have registered a case of murder against the duo under IPC section 302."