Crime branch said Amolik was sitting in his car 200 meters way from Lohariya’s office when he was shot dead by Venkatesh Shettiar and Wajid Qureshi earlier this month.
“After Lohariya was shot, Amolik went to Bijlani’s office in Navi Mumbai. He also visited the hospital in Navi Mumbai where Lohariya was taken to,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy.
“Investigations have revealed that Shettiar and Qureshi had conducted a recce of Lohariya’s office five days before the killing. The planning was done in Amolik’s office in Navi Mumbai,” Roy said.
The police have now launched a manhunt for Bijlani as well as Anurag Garg, Vijay Gajra, Bhupendra Gupta, Sumit Bachchewar and Suryaprakash Agarwal, all of whom are in the construction business and based in Navi Mumbai. Lohariya’s son Sandeep has alleged that they are the masterminds behind his father’s killing, and they were booked by the Navi Mumbai police based on Sandeep’s complaint.
The crime branch is now investigating one more name — Peerzade — that Shettiar had taken after he was chased and caught by eyewitnesses. Interestingly, a constable of the same name was arrested along with Amolik in 2003 in a false encounter case of 1992. There is also an inspector with the Navi Mumbai police with the same surname, Roy said.
The crime branch found that Shettiar had also taken the name of an officer with the Mumbai Police crime branch while being interrogated by the Vashi police, saying that the officer knew him and could vouch for him.
“Amolik keeps claiming full responsibility of the murder, saying that he ordered the hit following an altercation with Lohariya two months ago. However, we are verifying this. We are also checking for any underworld links to the incident, as Amolik himself has been linked to the underworld in the past. Further, Shettiar has also been loosely connected to the Chhota Rajan gang,” said a Crime Branch officer.
Builder’s bail plea rejected
The Bombay High Court on Monday rejected the anticipatory bail application of builder Suresh Bijlani, a suspect in S K Lohariya murder case. Mumbai police crime branch told the court that Lohariya, who was murdered outside his Vashi office on February 16, had given an “oral dying declaration” against Bijlani.
The prosecution relied on the dying declaration to oppose Bijlani’s anticipatory bail application. Public prosecutor Revati Mohite-Dere and additional public prosecutor Usha Kejriwal said the declaration was made while Lohariya was being taken to hospital. They claimed that the statement was made in the presence of an office boy and an autorickshaw driver. The prosecution also relied on call records allegedly giving details of conversations between Bijlani and co-accused.
Justice R C Chavan took note of the dying declaration as well a statement made by Lohariya’s son which “categorically shows that the applicant had threatened the victim in the past”. The court also rejected Bijlani’s demand that he should be given 10 days’ protection to approach Supreme Court.
Lawyer Ishwariprasad Bagaria, appearing for Bijlani, argued that former encounter cop Emmanuel Amolik, who was arrested in the matter, had not implicated Bijlani in the crime. He argued that while there are cases registered against other accused and a PIL also pending on the issue, no case was registered against Bijlani.