Sena man shot by BJP MLA critical; opposition guns for CM Shinde

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Ganpat Gaikwad

Ganpat Gaikwad in police custody

Thane/Mumbai: A Shiv Sena leader suffered multiple gunshot wounds and is in critical condition after a BJP MLA fired upon him over a land dispute in Maharashtra’s Thane district, prompting the opposition to demand Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s resignation, citing deteriorating law and order in the state.

Deputy CM and state home minister Devendra Fadnavis said he has ordered a high-level probe to find out what made the MLA open fire and under what circumstances.

Kalyan MLA Ganpat Gaikwad of BJP opened fire on Mahesh Gaikwad, the Shinde-led Sena’s Kalyan chief, inside the chamber of the senior inspector of Hill Line police station in Ulhasnagar area on Friday night, Additional Commissioner of Police Dattatrya Shinde told the media.

Talking to the news channel 'Zee24taas' over the phone before his arrest, Ganpat Gaikwad said that he used the firearm as his son was being beaten at the police station. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde is trying to establish a "kingdom of criminals" in Maharashtra, he alleged.

Ulhasnagar falls in the Kalyan parliamentary constituency, represented by CM Shinde’s son Shrikant Shinde. BJP and Shinde-led Sena belong to the ruling coalition in Maharashtra.

Mahesh Gaikwad was taken to a local hospital before being shifted to a private medical facility in Thane city. He underwent an emergency life-saving surgery and is on a ventilator, said the hospital, adding that his condition is “currently critical”. A team of doctors is monitoring his vitals.

According to Additional CP Shinde, Ganpat Gaikwad’s son had come to the police station to lodge a complaint in connection with a land dispute when Mahesh Gaikwad arrived with his men. Later, Ganpat Gaikwad also reached the police station.

During an altercation between the MLA and the Sena leader, Ganpat Gaikwad allegedly fired shots at Mahesh Gaikwad inside the senior inspector’s chamber, injuring him and his associate Rahul Patil, the official said.

“Yes, I shot (him) myself. I have no regrets. If my son is being beaten in front of the police inside the police station, what will I do,” asked Ganpat Gaikwad while talking to a news channel.

The BJP MLA alleged that Chief Minister Eknath Shinde is “trying to create a kingdom of criminals in Maharashtra”.

Besides Ganpat Gaikwad, the police have also arrested two others. They have been booked under Indian Penal Code sections, including 307 (attempt to murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy), said an official.

“If Eknath Shinde is the chief minister, only criminals will be born in Maharashtra. He has made a good person like me a criminal today,” he said and described his action as self-defence.

The BJP MLA accused CM’s son and Kalyan MP Shrikant Shinde of putting up boards and grabbing credit for the work done by him. “They have levelled a charge of corruption against me. How much money did Eknath Shinde make in that corruption, Shinde should tell,” he said.

“I had told my seniors many times that these people are indulging in violence against my leaders,” the lawmaker said.

Talking about the land dispute that led to the firing, Ganpat Gaikwad said he had bought a plot ten years ago. He said there were some legal issues but they won the matter in the court. However, Mahesh Gaikwad occupied it by force, he alleged.

The MLA said his son had gone to the police station in Ulhasnagar to lodge a complaint concerning the land.

“I have no regrets at all. As a father, I can’t tolerate if someone beats up my child,” he said.

The lawmaker added, “Shinde saheb betrayed Uddhav (Thackeray) saheb, he will also betray BJP… he owes me crores of rupees. Shinde should resign if Maharashtra is to be well-managed. This is my humble request to Devendra Fadnavis (deputy CM) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” In a medical bulletin just before noon, the Thane hospital treating Mahesh Gaikwad was brought to the facility with multiple gunshot injuries on Friday night. He underwent an emergency life-saving surgery, the hospital said.

“Post-surgery he is in the intensive care unit and on a ventilator. His condition is currently critical and an expert team of specialist doctors, including an intensivist, general surgeon, and thoracic and orthopaedic surgeon, are monitoring the vitals closely,” the bulletin said.

Fadnavis said he has ordered a high-level inquiry into it. “The Incident is serious and I have asked the DGP (director general of police) to hold a high-level Inquiry. Everyone is equal before the law irrespective of their political affiliations,” Fadnavis told reporters.

The probe will find out what made the MLA open fire and under what circumstances, he said.

State BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule said the party will take action against the MLA if he is guilty Deputy CM Ajit Pawar said it was wrong for elected representatives to take the law into their own hands.

The opposition demanded the resignation of CM Shinde, with the Congress claiming that there was a law and order breakdown in the state. NCP president Sharad Pawar termed it worrisome and said there is a limit to the "misuse" of power. Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut blamed Shinde for the incident.

While NCP working president Supriya Sule wondered if the home minister (Fadnavis) has given the open licence to BJP leaders to play with law and order, state minister Chhagan Bhujbal (NCP-Ajit Pawar group) countered the charge and asked, “Did Fadnavis ask the MLA to open fire?”

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