Duo conducted recce around Salman’s house before firing: hired by Bishnoi gang

A Mumbai Police officer said, "The investigation so far suggested Lawrence Bishnoi gang's role in hiring the two men".

Mumbai: Two men arrested in connection with firing at Salman Khan’s residence were prima facie hired by the Lawrence Bishnoi gang and the investigation so far suggested they conducted a recce around the actor’s house three times before executing the plan on April 14, officials said on Tuesday.

The duo Vicky Gupta (24) and Sagar Pal (21), originally from Chamaparan in Bihar, were apprehended late Monday night from Mata No Madh village in Gujarat’s Kutch district.

The investigation suggested that they carried out the firing for monetary considerations.

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A senior Gujarat Police officer said Gupta and Pal were hired by the gang of incarcerated gangster Lawrence Bishnoi to open fire at Khan’s house in Bandra.

A Mumbai Police officer said, “The investigation so far suggested Lawrence Bishnoi gang’s role in hiring the two men”.

More details have emerged during the investigation which suggested the duo was spotted near Hotel Taj Lands End in Bandra, just a km away from Khan’s house, between February 29 and March 1, a Mumbai Police official said.

Police suspect that one of the accused, Pal, came into contact with members of the Bishnoi gang in Haryana during his two-year stay, he said, adding that Gupta later joined him there.

It also came to light that the accused persons were in touch with another man with an Indian mobile number, he said.

Police have recovered the mobile phone from the accused duo.

The official also said the duo received about Rs 1 lakh, apparently from their handler, towards expenses for renting a house, buying a bike, and for other purposes for “doing the job”.

“They were promised more money after executing the job (of firing),” he said.

The duo travelled to Mumbai Central from Champaran on February 28, he said.

The accused persons rented a house near Panvel city in Raigad, around 13 km away from Khan’s farmhouse, he said. However, it is not known whether they had conducted a recce of the farmhouse.

He also said the duo used their original Aadhaar cards for a rent agreement.

“The agreement was made with the house owner wherein the one-time deposit is fixed at Rs 10,000 and monthly rent at Rs 3,500,” he said.

After staying for a few days in Panvel, the duo travelled to Champaran on March 18 for Holi celebrations. They returned on April 1, he said.

At around 5 am on Sunday, the two motorcycle-borne men opened fire outside 58-year-old Khan’s house in Bandra.

Out of five rounds fired at Galaxy Apartment, where Khan lives, one hit the wall and another hit the gallery of his residence, according to police.

Preliminary probe suggested that Pal, who was riding pillion on the motorcycle, opened fire, while Gupta remained in touch with gang members while riding the bike.

“A preliminary probe suggested that both Sagar Pal and Vicky Gupta were hired by the gang of Lawrence Bishnoi to open fire at Khan’s house,” Deputy Inspector General of Police, Kutch West, Mahendra Bagadiya, said earlier in the day.

After they were arrested by the Mumbai Police’s crime branch team, the accused duo was flown to the Maharashtra capital by a flight on Tuesday morning, said Lakhmi Gautam, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Mumbai.

“Their medical check-up was conducted and they were produced before a court which remanded them in police custody till April 25,” he said.

Considering the seriousness of the crime, section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC was added to the FIR, which was registered on charges of attempt to murder and Arms Act after the probe was transferred to the crime branch from Bandra Police, he said.

The crime branch had formed 12 teams to probe the case, he said.

Speaking about how the breakthrough was achieved, Lakhmi Gautam said, “With the help of human and technical intelligence, the crime branch team received information that the accused persons were in Gujarat, following which two teams were sent to nab them”.

He said the Bhuj Superintendent of Police was informed and a local crime branch joined Mumbai Police officials around 60 km away from Bhuj.

The preliminary investigation suggested that the accused persons carried out recce around Khan’s house at least three times before the firing, the Joint Commissioner of Police said.

Notably, a Facebook post claiming the responsibility for firing surfaced hours after the incident. The post was allegedly uploaded by Anmol Bishnoi, the younger brother of Lawrence Bishnoi.

“Anmol Bishnoi’s role is primarily visible in the crime and we are investigating,” the officer said.

Queried on the involvement of other persons in the incident, Lakhmi Gautam said police would investigate all the possible angles.

He said, “Mumbai Police are in touch with all states and investigating agencies where cases are registered against the particular gang”.

Another police official said Anmol Bishnoi will be shown as a wanted accused in the case for taking up the responsibility of firing through the FB post. He already had a red corner notice issued against him.

The Facebook account holder is also named as a wanted person in the case, he added.

He said a good quality weapon might have been used in the crime considering the make of the live round found at the spot.

“The duo threw the weapon in a river while fleeing to Surat after the crime,” he said.

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