Firing outside Salman home: Lawrence Bishnoi gang member held for funding shooters

Mumbai, May 7 (PTI) The Mumbai crime branch has arrested a member of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang from Rajasthan for allegedly providing financial help to the shooters involved in firing outside Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s house, officials said on Tuesday.

The accused, Mohammed Rafique Chowdhary (37), said in a meeting with shooters that Anmol Bishnoi, the younger brother of jailed gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, had given him a “bigger task” than them, the official said.

Choudhary was arrested from Bansi village of Nagaur district in Rajasthan, he said.

Two motorcycle-borne persons opened fire outside Khan’s residence at the Galaxy Apartment in Mumbai’s Bandra area on April 14 and fled the spot.

Choudhary, the fifth person to be arrested in the firing case, was produced before a Mumbai court which sent him in police custody, the official said.

His name cropped up during the interrogation of the other accused persons and also during technical analysis of their mobile phones, he said.

Chowdhary’s family members stay in Mumbai and run a dairy business. Chowdhary, who has studied up to Class 12, was in direct contact with Anmol Bishnoi and another gang leader, Rohit Gadara, he said.

He used to work in the dairy business of his family in South Mumbai. However, during the pandemic, the dairy business shut down, following which he came into contact with the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, the official said.

He was recruited into the gang by Anmol Bishnoi. After joining the gang, he used to remain mostly in his hometown, the official said.

When alleged shooters Sagar Pal and Vicky Gupta came to Mumbai, Anmol Bishnoi instructed them to meet Chowdhary. The trio met at Kurla on April 8, a week before shooting outside Khan’s house, the official said.

During the meeting, Chowdhary told the shooters to complete the task given to them and leave the metropolis.

Anmol Bishnoi told Chowdhary he had been given a “bigger task” than the shooters, he said.

The Mumbai police are now investigating what kind of task Chowdhary was assigned by Anmol Bishnoi, he said.

According to another official, Chowdhary has surveyed Khan’s residence several times.

As Chowdhary was in direct contact with Anmol Bishnoi and Rohit Gudara, the crime branch suspects that the two gangsters are together, he said.

Earlier, Gudara was traced in the UK and he may be now with Anmol Bishnoi in the USA, he said.

Choudhary allegedly provided financial support to Pal and Gupta to purchase a motorcycle and rent a house, he said.

The shooters had received money from various persons connected with the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, including Chowdhary, who had provided over Rs 1 lakh in cash for the purchase of a motorbike, renting a house in Panvel near Mumbai, and other expenses, said the official.

Chowdhary also received money from the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, the official said.

One of the arrested persons, Anuj Thapan, who was accused of supplying weapons to the shooters, allegedly hanged himself in a police lock-up here on May 1.

Lawrence Bishnoi, currently lodged in the Sabarmati central prison in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, and his younger brother Anmol Bishnoi, who is believed to be in the US or Canada, have been named in the firing case.

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