February 7, 2017 3:58:46 am
Swapnil Yerunkar, brother of murder convict Sumeet Yerunkar, is among the candidates who has been fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the upcoming Mumbai civic polls. Swapnil, who was previously a core committee member of Shiv Sena’s youth wing Yuva Sena, has been given the ticket from Everhard Nagar-Qureshi Nagar (Ward no. 170) in Chunnabhatti. His brother, who is lodged in the Kolhapur jail, is serving life sentence for a murder committed in Uran, police said. Incidentally, on February 5 last year, Sumeet (alias Pappu), while out on parole, had allegedly planned the murder of a builder in the same civic ward where Swapnil is now a contestant.
Gunshots were fired at the builder, who survived the attack. The Anti Extortion Cell later cracked the case. On February 15 that year, Sumeet was arrested for the offence along with three others. Investigators identified Sumeet as the main conspirator for the attack. He was charged with attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy. In fact, investigators confirmed they had even invoked the stringent MCOCA in the case.
There is more. Sunil Bhosale, senior police inspector, Chunnabhatti police station, confirmed Sumeet is a “historysheeter” and has several cases lodged against him. Officials said there are at least three other cases, including robbery (Chembur), theft (Mulund) and carrying an unlicenced weapon (Chunnabhatti) lodged against him in Mumbai, besides another murder case in Thane, where the victim was a former Shiv Sena corporator from Ambernath, Nitin Waringe.
On Monday, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) hit out at the BJP over Swapnil’s candidature. “The BJP, which does not miss a chance to boast that it’s a party with a difference, has been giving tickets to kin of historysheeters and goons all over Maharashtra. The Bihar pattern is being replicated in the state,” said NCP’s chief spokesman and former Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik. Incidentally, Malik’s brother, Abdul Malik (Kaptan), has been fielded by the NCP from the same seat.
Labelling the controversy as NCP’s conspiracy, Swapnil said, “I have nothing to do with my brother’s criminal record or the crime he committed in the ward. My candidature is purely on the basis of the social work and development activities carried out by me in the region. I have been active in the region and people know me well.”
He alleged, “The NCP feels threatened and so has resorted to dirty politics.”
The BJP’s unit in Maharashtra had earlier come under fire for induction of a goon, Vitthal Shelar, in Pune. Also, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had to step in to decline the entry of tainted leaders from other parties in Thane recently.
Poonam Mahajan, BJP MP from Mumbai, when contacted, said, “Swapnil has been doing wonderful work in Chunnabhatti. The ticket has been given on the merit of the public work he has carried out in the region. He is educated and active in the community. He does not have a criminal past. We are not interested in his brother’s antecedents.”
Swapnil clarified that he does not reside with his brother’s family. BJP’s Mumbai unit chief Ashish Shelar, meanwhile, said, “I’m not aware of these facts (criminal past of Swapnil’s brother). But the ticket is given on the candidate’s merit. If a family member has committed a crime that the candidate has nothing to do with, how can it be his fault,” he said.
Swapnil, meanwhile, alleged the NCP candidate has criminal cases against him. But Nawab Malik claimed the cases against his brother were related to political events. “They aren’t heinous crimes such as murder and robbery,” he said.
WITH INPUTS FROM SANDEEP ASHAR
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