Mumbai Crime Branch starts probe into murder of Thackeray group leader; 2 teams formed

Mumbai: The Crime Branch of Mumbai police has formed two teams to probe into the sensational murder of Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Abhishek Ghosalkar during a ‘Facebook Live’ by a local ‘social activist’, who also killed himself, an official said on Friday.

One team headed by an inspector-rank official is investigating the murder of Ghosalkar, while the second team is probing into the “accidental” death of his killer Mauris Noronha, he said.

The Crime Branch probe will focus on several aspects, including how Noronha got the weapon and who provided it to him, if he was under the influence of alcohol at the time and the questioning of people who were present at the spot when Ghosalkar was fired upon, he said.

Abhishek (40), son of former MLA Vinod Ghosalkar, a loyalist of the Uddhav Thackeray-led party, was also a former corporator.

A viral video of the incident, which took place at assailant Mauris Noronha's office in IC Colony in the northern suburb of Borivali (West) on Thursday evening, showed Ghosalkar being shot in the abdomen and shoulder.

A senior police official earlier told PTI that Ghosalkar was hit by four bullets. Noronha, who used an illegal pistol for the crime, then shot himself once, he added.

Ghosalkar and Noronha had “personal enmity” but the Facebook Live was arranged to clarify that they had come together, ending their bitterness for the betterment of the IC Colony area, another police official said.

The MHB Colony police registered a case after the murder, while Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Satya Narayan and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Datta Nalawade visited the spot for the probe.

Late in the night, the case was transferred to the Mumbai Crime Branch for further investigation, a senior police official said. The decision was taken considering the seriousness of the matter and the scope of the probe, he said.

A team from the Crime Branch also visited the crime scene along with the local police, the official said. Later, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Lakhmi Gautam and DCP (Crime) Raj Tilak Roshan also reached the spot in connection with the investigation.

The team has started the probe and is trying to gather evidence, he said.

The Crime Branch will try to ascertain from where Noronha procured the pistol and who provided it to him, the official said. Inquiry with the people, who were at the spot during the incident is being conducted, he said.

Police are also examining whether Noronha was under the influence of alcohol when pumped bullets into Ghosalkar, the official said, adding that his blood samples have been collected.

Hundreds of Sena (UBT) supporters gathered outside Karuna Hospital in north Mumbai, where Abhishek Ghosalkar was rushed to after he was fired upon, and its vicinity. Accordingly, heavy police deployment has been kept in the area to avoid any untoward incident, the official said.

In the early hours of Friday, Ghosalkar’s body was shifted to state-run JJ hospital for post-mortem, he said.

The incident took place days after a BJP MLA was caught on camera firing at an Eknath Shinde faction leader inside a police station at Ulhasnagar.

Chief Minister Shinde said on Thursday that a probe was being launched into the latest firing incident.

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