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January 25, 2000
Sena leader Gopal Rajwani shot dead
Jake Khan in Ulhasnagar
Top Shiv Sena leader in Ulahasnagar, Gopal Rajwani, was shot dead by four unidentified assailants this morning in the premises of the First Class Magistrate's court here.
Rajwani, a former aide of ganglord Dawood Ibrahim, arrived at the court at around 11 am accompanied by his son-in-law and driver. As soon as he got off his car, four gunmen opened fire at him. Hit in the head, chest, neck and back, a profusely bleeding Rajwani was rushed to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Vijay Kamble, Additional Commissioner of Police, Thane, refused to speculate about the identity of the killers. "It's too early to say anything, though we have a description of the killers and some other vital clues,'' he said.
Rajwani, who began his life in Ulhasnagar as a humble papad seller, rose rapidly in the crime world after coming in contact with Govind Vachani.
Rajwani later went on to join Pappu Kalani and was arrested in 1982-83 in connection with the murder of Blitz sub-editor, A V Narayan. He was, however, acquitted because of lack of proof.
In 1985 he fell out with Kalani over division of extortion money. In April the same year Kalani got Rajwani arrested in an extortion case. While Rajwani was being escorted to the Vithalwadi police station in a rickshaw, Kalani arranged for his men to attack him with bombs and guns. Rajwani survived the attack, but was seriously injured.
In JJ Hospital where he was admitted, he came in contact with Haji Mastan, a notorious smuggler and the ruling don of that time. Haji Mastan took Rajwani under his wings and provided him protection from Kalani.
With Mastan's blessings, Rajwani went to Dubai and stayed there till he met Dawood Ibrahim and began buying benami properties for the don.
A flat in Lokhandwala Complex was one of the properties he bought for Dawood. It was in this flat where the then additional commissioner of police, Aftaab Ahmed Khan, gunned down six of Dawood's aides including the ring leader - Maya Dolas, in an encounter lasting fourteen hours.
Rajwani returned to Ulhasnagar only after Pappu Kalani was put behind bars after he was arrested under TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act) in 1992.
He joined the Shiv Sena in 1995 and was detained under the Maharashtra Prevention of Disruptive Activities Act (MPDA) in 1998.
Police sources in Ulhasnagar said Kalani is obviously the prime suspect in Rajwani's murder and he would be soon summoned for interrogation.
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