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Salman Khan case: 2 shooters nabbed from Pakistan-bordering Kachchh, sent to 10-day police custody (Lead)

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Mumbai, April 16 (IANS) The two shooters, who allegedly opened fire at Bollywood actor Salman Khan's home on Sunday, were apprehended from Gujarat's border Kachchh district early on Tuesday and brought to Mumbai, where a court sent them to police custody till April 25, officials said on Tuesday.

The duo, identified as Vicky Gupta, 24, and Sagar Pal, 23, were nabbed from Bhuj town in Kachchh district of Gujarat, bordering Pakistan, in a swift joint operation of the Mumbai Police and Gujarat Police, and brought to Mumbai this morning.

Joint Police Commissioner, Crime, Lakhmi Gautam told media persons that a total of five rounds were fired at Salman Khan’s residence in the sea-facing Galaxy Apartments in Bandra West.

"Later that day, Anmol Bishnoi wrote a Facebook post on the incident. We have arrested both accused. They had carried out a recce of Salman Khan’s house at least thrice," said Gautam, on the sensational shootout that was solved in less than 36 hours, with a dozen special teams working on it.

Earlier, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kachchh, A. R. Zankat told the media that in the preliminary questioning of the accused, it emerged that they were in touch with the notorious Lawrence Bishnoi gang members.

Bhuj town is barely 325 km from the India-Pakistan border that runs via the Great Rann of Kachchh.

After conducting a recce of Salman Khan’s home over the past few days, as also his sprawling country house, Arpita Farms in Panvel (Raigad district), the duo zoomed towards Galaxy Apartments around 5 am on April 14 and fired the shots. Without hitting any specific target, they effectively conveyed the "message" of their intentions, and later that day, Anmol Bishnoi termed it as ‘the first and last warning’ to the Khans.

According to official sources, after firing, they sped off towards the Mehboob Studios and asked an autorickshaw driver how to reach Vasai (Palghar), dumped the bike near the Mount Mary Church and took another autorickshaw to Bandra station. They again commuted to Santacruz, Vakola and then towards Navi Mumbai, from where they are believed to have sneaked to Gujarat.

Almost all their movements were recorded on CCTVs installed at various locations in the city which were scanned by the police teams, which deployed tech intelligence and took the help of informers to finally zero in on the duo in Bhuj.

Meanwhile, another team managed to track the motorcycle and its registration to Raigad, and the Navi Mumbai Police helped detain the duo who claimed they had sold it to the shooter duo.

The police also learnt that the two accused had rented a flat in Navi Mumbai, Panvel and lived there for 25 days before committing the daring shootout outside Khan’s home. The house owner was also grilled along with the motorbike sellers.

So far it's not clear whether they used the rented house as their ‘base’ while using the second-hand motorcycle to move around for their nefarious intentions under the guise of ‘some business’ but actually conducting the recce, as well as who financed the operation, from where they acquired the weapon, etc.

During those recon trips, they reportedly attempted to get details on Salman Khan’s movements, his daily timetable, and the vehicles he preferred, and tried to find out the number of police around the actor from one of the security persons.

In the initial questioning, the duo confessed to the firing, the police recovered a pistol and other items of the crime from them.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde who visited the Khans home in Bandra, assured the family that “you have nothing to fear”, the government and the police are responsible for their safety and security, and vowed that the incident will be thoroughly investigated and the culprits punished.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at q.najmi@ians.in)

--IANS

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