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Pramod Mahajan is dead; cremation tomorrow

Written by: Staff

Mumbai, May 3 (UNI) After waging a 12-day battle for survival, BJP's 'man for all seasons' Pramod Mahajan, who strode like a colossus on the country's political firmament, died here today of gunshot wounds inflicted by his younger brother Pravin.

The 56-year-old Mahajan, known for his managerial skills and good contacts across the political spectrum, was declared dead at the Hinduja Hospital here this afternoon.

Mr Mahajan is survived by his wife Rekha, son Rahul and daughter Poonam.

The BJP general secretary, who was shot point-blank allegedly by his younger brother, Pravin, 45, at his Worli home here on April 22, died fighting multiple organ failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) after three surgeries.

Hospital chief executive officer Dr Pramod Lele said Mr Mahajan breathed his last at 1610 hrs.

Mr Mahajan died with three bullets still embedded in his body.

The body was taken out of Hinduja hospital at around 1840 hrs to the government-run G T hospital for post mortem and will be subsequently kept at BJP's Maharashtra headquarters for public to pay their respects. It will be removed to Mr Mahajan's Worli residence late in the night, party State president Nitin Gadkari said. He said Mr L K Advani and Mr Rajnath Singh, the former and current president of the BJP, will reach Mumbai at 2000 hrs and 2200 hrs respectively.

Pravin, who had surrendered immediately after the crime and was arrested on April 22 itself, was today sent to judicial custody till May 17 by a local court after the expiry of his police remand in the case of murderous assault registered against him under section 307 of Indian Penal Code.

Police Commissioner A N Roy said the charge will be converted to murder under section 302 of IPC now that Mr Mahajan has died.'' I do not find any hurdle in slapping the murder charge,'' he said and added investigation in the case was still in progress.

After undergoing three operations in one week, doctors conducted a bronchoscopy on Mr Mahajan on Tuesday to find out a way to reduce his ARDS which became a cause of worry. Earlier, most vital organs of the BJP leader had been on various life-support systems since April 22. He remained constantly on ventilator and dialysis support.

The three bullets had shattered his liver, head of pancreas and extensively damaged his intensines. Inflmmation of the pancreas and high level of infection came in the way of stabilising his condition and doctors had to give heavy dose of drugs to support his fluctuating blood pressure.

Pravin fired four bullets at his brother following an argument over a property dispute but Prakash, another brother of Mr Mahajan, had denied this, saying there was no dispute since there is no property.

Pravin had surrendered at the Worli police station and was arrested on April 22 itself. He also handed over to police his licensed .32 mm calibre Belgian Browning pistol police said was used in the crime.

Pravin reportedly confessed the crime and told the police that Mr Mahajan often humiliated him and treated him like '' dirt.'' More UNI JM-GVS-ST SA RP ND1920

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