Thane: A gangster-turned-corporator and six others were sentenced to life imprisonment by the district court on Friday in the sensational murder of another gangster Dipak Patil in 2011 near Vitawa Bridge.

Additional Sessions Judge A S Bhaisare pronounced the order and the convicts were taken into custody in the open courtroom, which was packed to capacity.

Rajesh alias Raja Gawari is a sitting Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) corporator, who was elected on a Congress ticket in the 2011 civic elections. In July 2014, Gawari switched loyalties to Shiv Sena along with corporator Ravindra Phatak, who had led the defection with six others.

Gawri was allegedly the mastermind in the crime. The others convicted include Atul aka Batli Deshmukh (29) Ravichand aka Raja Thakur (26), Jaideep Salvi (30), Sujit Sutar (30), Sujit aka Batrya Nyaynirgune (29) and Nitin Vaity (30). One other accused, Bunty Mishra, is still at large. Additional public prosecutor Hemlata Deshmukh examined a total of two dozen witnesses in the case.

Deshmukh told the court that the deceased, Dipak Patil, was a gangster-turned-building materials supplier, who had been released from jail on parole. Patil was the prime accused in Navi Mumbai corporator Devidas Chowgule’s 2007 murder case. On January 04, 2011, at 1.10pm, Patil was returning from the Thane sessions court after attending a hearing and travelling in his SUV to his Airoli residence with his aides, when the crime was committed.

As his car neared the Vitawa subway, Thakur, who was driving another SUV, intercepted Patil’s vehicle. Salvi and others attacked Patil’s SUV and started breaking its windscreen with rods and sharp weapons. As Patil began to run for his life, Deshmukh fired a round at him, hitting his waist. As Patil collapsed, Deshmukh and Sutar fired at his head at point-blank range.

The prosecution told the court that a long-pending professional enmity was the motive behind the brutal killing. They all worked for different gangs led by Sujit Sutar and Raja Gawari.Friends-turned-foes Sutar and Patil were partners in a building material supply business. All the convicts have serious criminal records, including murder.

Source: TOI-MUM