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I’m shaking with fear, says Arun Gawli

Express News Service

Posted: Apr 27, 2004 at 0214 hrs IST

‘‘I’m too scared to go out. Vijay Salaskar is moving around in a vehicle, he will murder me in an encounter. He is a dada. I am scared.’’

Astonishingly, it’s don-turned-politician Arun Gawli who’s saying this. And what’s more, the independent Lok Sabha candidate from Mumbai South-Central was apparently scared enough of ‘encounter specialist’ Inspector Salaskar to not exercise his franchise.

Speaking to Newsline minutes before polling came to a close, the 51-year-old Gawli, aka Daddy, said: ‘‘I wrote to the Election Commission asking for security, but they didn’t provide it. Salaskar moving around near my residence is an infringement of my fundamental right of movement.’’

He added that the government is scared he could emerge as a ‘‘strong political force’’ in the state, which is why they’re allegedly confining him to his residence.

Salaskar, on his part, says he could hardly have threatened Gawli. “Neither did he meet me nor did I speak to him over the telephone. Whatever he perceives is his own problem.’’

To be fair to Gawli, there was a virtual siege around Gawli’s fortress-like residence at Dagdi Chawl, Byculla. The police said he was provided with an armed police escort, but Gawli denied the same.

Gawli also said he ‘‘has information’’ that he will be bumped off during the second phase of polling.

‘‘Salaskar threatened my activists against stepping out of Dagdi Chawl. My supporters were also detained by the Agripada police,’’ said Gawli. On Sunday evening,

‘‘I’m shaking with fear,’’ Gawli kept repeating.

The residents of Dagdi Chawl have had an uneasy week, after a Thane Crime Branch team raided the tenements on April 18 to arrest Gawli’s former lieutenant and now corporator Sunil Ghate on April 18.

Three more raids followed in the next six days.

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