The city police have arrested seven people in connection with the murder of Shiv Sena leader Sachin Sawant, 46, outside his suburban Kandivli home on April 22.
The seven accused were produced in a local court on Tuesday and have been remanded in the custody of the Kurar police till May 14.
The accused have been identified as Lokesh Singh, Abhay Salunkhe Patil alias Barkya, Satyendra Ramji alias Sonu, Nilesh Sharma, Brijesh Patil alias Brija, Amit Singh and Brijesh Singh. Police officials said one more accused, Umesh Sahani, is still wanted in the case.
Police sources said apart from Brijesh Singh, who was arrested from Malad, all the accused were arrested from the same region in Uttar Pradesh, where they all hail from.
On April 22, Sachin Sawant and his family went to Lokhandwala circle in Kandivli for a snack. Soon after they got back home, and sat down to watch the IPL, around 7pm, Sawant got a phone call that Vishnu Sawant, husband of sitting local Sena corporator Vinaya Sawant, had called for a meeting at the Sena shakha, which is just 200 metres away from his house. The meeting was called to discuss issues regarding a slum rehabilitation project and contract.
After the meeting, Sawant left with Jagannath Verma, a real estate contractor he was acquainted with, on his bike. As Verma drove towards Sawant’s building, through a crowded lane, two people called out to Sawant saying “bhau (brother)”. At this, he asked Verma to stop the bike, and still on the bike, he turned around. The two men came close to him and fired one round from a 9mm pistol point-blank into his chest. The assailants emptied the remaining five live rounds at the spot and fled on foot.
Minutes later, Verma rushed to Sawant’s home shouting about the shootout. His family ran to the spot, and found him lying in a pool of blood. He was rushed to Bhagwati hospital, where he was declared brought dead.
Earlier, police officials have said that it appears to be a contract killing, after differences cropped up over a slum rehabilitation project in the locality.