Suresh Khomane, the 25-year-old toll staffer who was shot at by one of the five occupants of the car at Khed-Shivapur toll plaza on Tuesday, became a victim of the attacker’s bullet when he tried to resolve the argument between other toll staffers and attackers. The CCTV footage shows that Khomane arrived at the spot and was hit by a bullet when he tried to settle the argument.
Khomane, who hails from Dhangawadi village near Khed-Shivapur, has been admitted to Bharati Hospital in Katraj. Relatives told dna that Khomane is recovering well. “The bleeding has stopped and he spoke to his mother and other family members today. However, he is still kept under observation in intensive care unit,” a relative said.
Amit Choubey, assistant manager of PS Toll Road Private Limited that manages the toll plaza at Khed-Shivapur told dna, “When the car reached toll booth number three, Khomane was not in the cabin and another staffer attended the car. The person who was driving the car showed him his vehicle registration card to tell that he is a local resident and therefore he will not pay toll charges. The staffer made the entry in the computer system and allowed the vehicle to pass through the toll plaza. However, the occupants of the car were in a drunken state and started abusing the staffers for halting their vehicle. When our staffer asked them not to use abusive language, they argued with him. When they started shouting at our staffer, Khomane and other staffers came to the toll collection booth and intervened and asked the car occupants to leave the toll booth.”
After the car left the toll plaza, all staffers returned to their duty but the car driver halted the vehicle a few metres away from the toll plaza. Three of the occupants got down from the car and walked to the same toll booth and again started an argument.
Choubey said, “When Khomane and other staffers tried to calm them down, one of the persons took out a pistol and opened fire in which one of the bullet hit Khomane in his chest. After the firing, they drove away the car towards Pune.”
Kolhapur bandh against toll total
Kolhapur city showed their strength of unity by observing bandh against toll collection on Thursday. The agitators have made it clear that the stir will continue till toll charges are scrapped from the city.
The toll collection at nine plazas within Kolhapur city was to start by Ideal Road Builders (IRB) from Thursday. However, the bandh call given by Kolhapur anti-toll committee has scuttled their plan.
IRB has constructed the internal roads of Kolhapur city against which the company will be collecting toll charges. The road construction work by IRB was started in 2008 and completed in 2011. Toll collection has been due since then.
However, IRB could not collect toll due to public opposition. The firm recently moved the Bombay High Court and the court had directed the state security corporation to provide security at toll collection booths in Kolhapur.
The Kolhapur anti-toll committee led by ND Patil and Govind Pansare met Kolhapur district collector and later announced that the stir will continue.
After the firing incident, PS Toll Road Private Limited has requested the Pune rural police to provide security to the toll plaza staffers. Two armed policemen have been deployed at the Khed-Shivapur toll plaza from Thursday.
Lack of proper info
The conflict between local residents and toll plaza collection staffers can be avoided if staffers provide appropriate information to residents regarding a monthly pass which they can obtain by paying a certain amount so that the former do not have to pay toll every time they pass through plaza.
At the Khed-Shivapur toll plaza, residents staying within 20 kilometre of radius from the toll plaza can get a pass at Rs215. Following are some of the areas that are within 20 km radius of the toll plaza — Yerawada, Shivajinagar, Pashan, Vitthalwadi, Wadgaon Budruk, Warje, Wadgaon Khurd, Bhugaon, Bhukum, Ahire, Khadakwasala, Shivne, Ambegaon Hingne Khurd and Dhayri.
The Pune rural police claim to have identified the four suspects involved in the firing on a toll booth employee at Khed-Shivapur toll plaza on Mumbai-Bangalore National Highway. Senior divisional police officer (SDPO) incharge for Bhor division said, “They will be arrested soon.” However, according to sources, the police have detained three persons identified as Harshad Dhruv Dhanwade, Atul Ashok Pale and Prashant Dattatray Dhanwade.