In Sena Leader’s Call To Son After BMW Crash, A Big Porsche Case Parallel

Shiv Sena leader Rajesh Shah had asked his son Mihir to switch places with their driver Rajrishi Bidawat after the BMW car he was driving crashed into a scooter and dragged a woman, police told a Mumbai court today. The woman, Kaveri Nakhawa, died in the crash.

While main accused Mihir Shah is on the run, his father Rajesh Shah, deputy leader of the Eknath Shinde-led Sena in Maharashtra’s Palghar district, and the family’s driver Rajrishi Bidawat have been arrested. Police sources said they were not cooperating in the probe. They were produced in court today. Rajesh Shah was remanded in judicial custody till July 13 and the driver Bidawat in police custody for a day. 

Mihir Shah, the police said, and his father Rajesh Shah made several calls to each other after the accident in Worli early yesterday, police have said. The Sena leader, they said, told his son to switch places with the driver and move to the seat next to the driver. The plan, police said, was to pin the blame for the crash on the driver.

This is strikingly similar to what had transpired in the Porsche crash in Pune this February. After a late-night dash by a 17-year-old son of a Pune realtor in his high-end car left two 24-year-old engineers dead, the family had tried to make the driver take the blame. The driver had alleged that he was confined and threatened by the teen’s grandfather. The boy’s father and grandfather now face a kidnapping case. They were granted bail earlier this month.

The Mumbai crash, coming months after the Pune hit-and-run, has added to the outrage against rash driving as many point to how powerful people are bending rules to get away after crashes claim precious lives.

In the Worli hit-and-run case, police have gone all out to track down Mihir Shah, whose phone has been switched off since yesterday. A lookout circular has been issued and six police teams are looking for him.

Police suspect that Mihir Shah was drunk at the time of the accident. According to the investigation so far, he drank at a bar in Juhu late Saturday night and his driver picked him up in the BMW car. At Worli, he insisted that he would drive and took the wheel. The Nakhawas, Koliwada residents who sold fish for a living, were on their way back from Sassoon Dock when the BMW crashed into their scooter. Kaveri Nakhawa was run over and dragged by the BMW as it fled the scene. She was rushed to a hospital, where doctors declared her dead.

A case has been registered under the new criminal code Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita under sections relating to culpable homicide not amounting to murder, rash driving and destruction of evidence, among others. Provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act have also been invoked.

Maharashtra Chief Minister and Sena Leader Eknath Shinde has termed the incident “unfortunate” and assured strict action. “Law will take its own course, everyone is equal before law,” he has said.

The victim’s husband, Pradeep, broke down before the media yesterday. “I have two children, what will I do now? These are big people, nobody will do anything, we will suffer,” he said.

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