Rediff - pics Rons Bantwal
Mumbai, Oct 27: A gunman, hailing from Bihar, who had come to the city to pass on a message to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray, was gunned down by police in an exchange of fire after he kept a conductor of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) bus hostage near Bailbazaar area in the eastern suburb of Kurla.
BEST General Manager Uttam Khobragade said an unidentified man boarded the double-decker bus number 332, running from Kurla to Andheri station, at Sakinaka area. When the bus conductor asked for a ticket or monthly pass, he tied the conductor's hands and allegedly fired few rounds in the air.
The gunman has been identified as 23-year-old Rahul Raj.
"He was shouting Main Patna se aaya hu, mujhe kisi ko kuchh nahi karna hai, main MNS president Raj Thackeray ko massage dena chahata hun' (I have come from Patna. I do not want to harm anyone. I want to pass on a message to MNS president Raj Thackeray)," Khobragade said.
The officer further said at that time, another conductor from the same bus rushed to a nearby police station and informed them about the incident.
Police cordoned off the bus and asked him to surrender. Instead, he allegedly fired at a police team. In the retaliatory firing, he suffered head and chest injuries, and collapsed on the ground.
Meanwhile, a video shot by a news channel shows Raj sitting on the upper level of a double-decker bus and carrying a weapon.
The youth was seen first threatening policemen nearby and running up and down the bus before being shot by police personnel.
The injured gunman was admitted to civic-run Rajawadi Hospital at Ghatkopar, where he was declared dead on admission.
Some youths from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh had come down to the city to appear for Railway Board examination on October 19. They were assaulted by MNS activists. Thereafter, Raj was arrested from Ratnagiri. His arrest had led to state-wide protests by his activists who resorted to stone pelting and arson for his release.