The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Praveen tried to fire 4th shot

Mumbai, April 28: Rekha Mahajan has told police she heard two shots ring out from the kitchen and rushed into the drawing room to see Praveen firing the third one. He tried to fire a fourth, but his Browning pistol jammed.

Pramod Mahajan’s wife, the only witness to the shooting last Saturday, also said in her statement to the police that she tried, unsuccessfully, to stop her brother-in-law Praveen from fleeing.

The BJP leader’s condition continued to be “critical”.

Her statement corroborates the evidence so far collected by the police, which includes the version given by Praveen himself.

Harish, the Mahajans’ domestic help, who was the only other person in the flat when the shootout took place, has told the police he was not in the drawing room when Praveen shot elder brother Pramod.

Praveen, a construction contractor, had driven to upscale Purna Apartments at Worli around 7.30 am and Rekha offered him a cup of tea. She went to the kitchen to make the tea, leaving the two brothers in the drawing room when Praveen emptied three bullets into Pramod from his licensed pistol.

Rekha told the police that Mahajan was conscious after the attack and instructed brother-in-law Gopinath Munde and other family members to take him to Hinduja hospital at Mahim instead of Leelavati Hospital at Bandra to save time in his treatment. It would have taken 10 more minutes to drive to Bandra and further blood loss. In any case, he needed 28 to 30 units of blood.

His wife also narrated to the police how she alerted her daughter Poonam who stays nearby, and Munde, who lives on the 12th floor of the same building. Poonam’s husband Anand Rao drove them to Hinduja hospital, she said.

Police officers said Rekha’s statement would help make the attempt-to-murder case against Praveen watertight. “It is an open and shut case because the accused is already in our custody and has admitted the offence. We have also seized the weapon, and his car. We are waiting for the ballistic report to come, and we would be ready to file the chargesheet,” said a senior officer.

A team of the Worli police recorded Rekha’s account at the Hinduja hospital on yesterday evening ahead of a court hearing scheduled for Saturday. They also took down the statements of Gopinath Munde, Poonam and Pramod’s son Rahul.

The police said because of the high-profile nature of the case, the home department might assign it to a fast-track court.

The state government has appointed leading criminal lawyer Shrikant Bhat as the special public prosecutor in the case. He will appear for the prosecution before the Bhoiwada court tomorrow when Praveen is produced for further remand.

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