Sunil Kumar, a builder from New Mumbai, and owner of Sk Brothers Company was stabbed and shot, on his way to office on the Khoparkhairane Road. Kumar, a resident of Sector 18, in Sanpada, had just parked his BMW and was walking towards the gates of the office when he was waylaid by two men dressed in security guard's outfits. According to eye-witness accounts and CCTV recording, one of the assailant was holding a wooden stool, and the other had a coconut and marigold garland.
Venkatesh Shettiyar (35), is now being interrogated at New Mumbai police station.
CCTV footage shows that the two stopped Kumar and one of the assailants smashed a coconut on his head. Kumar lost his balance, which is when one of them removed a knife and stabbed him on his chest and stomach. The police have recovered a broken thumb from the crime scene, believed to be Kumar's suggesting that he did try to stop the assailants.
Kumar began bleeding when the second killed removed a pistol and shot five rounds on him, said Puroshttam Karad, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 1) Navi Mumbai. Strangely, the two spread the garland of flowers on his body and tried to flee the spot on a motorcycle.
The gun shots though had got a few alert neighbours and passers-by who chased the bike. The pillion rider was dragged by his collar and pulled down, while the rider managed to speed away. In a rage of anger, the locals brutally assaulted the pillion rider until he fell unconscious.
The locals rushed Kumar to the hospital where he was declared dead during treatment. Meanwhile the police took custody of Shettiyar to Navi Mumbai Municipal Hospital as he had been badly beaten by the crowd. As Shettiyar had received grievous injuries he was admitted to the hospital, said Karad. We have arrested Shettiyar and are tracing his absconding accomplice, added Karad.
According to cops, the ritual of smashing coconut on a victim is a practice among some south Indian gangs operating in New Mumbai. Police though also suspect that its a disguise which the assailants chose to escape attention.
The police officers investigating the case said that Kumar had been dealing in plots in Navi Mumbai and Kharghar. Kumar had been involved in many other businesses in Mumbai and Delhi.
Sources from the police station said that the motive behind the murder could be professional rivalry as Kumar had a history of applying for details on the plot deals of other builders under RTI and extort money from them, We will not be able to confirm this until we record the statement of the arrested accused. We are also trying to find out whether the two assailants were hired killers, said a police officer from the Navi Mumbai police station. The cops have called for details from Vashi Police station where a complaint was filed against Kumar, according to New Mumbai police.
SK Builders are associated with land dealings however they have also constructed a couple of residential buildings in Navi Mumbai, said Rajesh Prajapati, president of Maharashtra Chamber of Housing and Secretary MCHI-CREDAI Raigad Unit. A builder on condition of anonymity alleged that Kumar was well known in the circle for using RTI to blackmailing them, Many people had grudges against him, said the builder.