The young woman in the picture is Simran Sood, a small-time model-cum-actress and accomplice of Vijay Palande alias Karan Sood. Cops say she was often used as a honeytrap by Vijay, who is currently behind bars. So are his aides Dhananjay Shinde and Manoj Gajkosh, in connection with the murder of senior citizen Arun Tiku. And yet, had police managed to puzzle out the kidnapping case of Karan Kumar Kakkad, which came to them more than a month ago, Tiku — who was found dead at his son’s Oshiwara apartment last Saturday night — would have been alive and well. A woman named Rita Kakkad from Delhi had approached Amboli police on March 10, claiming that her younger son Karan (28) had gone missing on March 5.
A month after the missing complaint, the police registered a kidnapping case against Vijay Palande, Simran Sood, Manoj Jadhav and Ganesh Shinde when the Kakkads identified the three accompanying Karan in a CCTV recording with the help of media photos of Vijay in the Oshiwara murder case. Amboli police arrested Simran Sood on Friday. Cops are now trying to find out whether the quartet has killed Karan and how many others have been targeted by Vijay and his gang. “We had mentioned the names Simran and Karan Sood to the cops and that our son was in touch with them. Had the police probed the matter more zealously, our son would have been with us and Arun Tiku would have been alive too,” said Rita Kakkad.
According to Hanish Kakkad (32), an estate agent in Delhi, his younger brother Karan was staying at a rented flat in Oberoi Springs, Andheri (West) for the past three years. Karan was a coordinator working with a pre-production company. Hanish said that a few months ago Karan had asked for cash from him to buy a car to ‘show off’ in the city in order to acquire finance to start his own film production company. Hanish had then sent Rs 15 lakh to his sibling to buy a second-hand BMW. Hanish said on Friday that Karan had called him up in Delhi and told him that he was on his way to meet a politician with the help of ‘Karan Sood’, who is the ‘brother’ of his neighbour Simran. Karan had told Hanish that the politician was a contact of Vijay and would help him get Rs 2.50 crore.
“When I called on my brother’s mobile next, it was switched off. For three days then we were not able to contact Karan. We got worried and came to Mumbai. When we went to his house in Andheri, we found it locked. We then approached the police and filed a missing person’s complaint,” said Hanish adding that they had told the police about Vijay alias Karan Sood and Simran. Hanish said that the police had called Simran for inquiry but after she said she did not know anything about the missing man, she was allowed to go. Hanish then got the credit card details of Karan, which showed that on March 5 he had shopped at Inorbit mall and also purchased fuel. On March 17, Hanish got a call from a friend of Karan in Delhi, who told him that the victim’s mobile phone had been found in the Vaishali Express train and handed over to railway police. Hanish went to Delhi and brought back the phone, which had the chat details between Karan and Vijay. Hanish also found that Simran had used Karan’s credit card for shopping in Bangkok.
Following this, Hanish blocked his brother’s card and began investigating the case himself. He also procured the CCTV recordings of Inorbit mall where he found two men accompanying Karan. On Wednesday, after the arrest of Vijay Palande and Ganesh Shinde, when Hanish saw their photos in newspapers, he approached the police and showed them the recordings. Cops suspect Vijay and his gang looted valuables including the BMW car, worth Rs 50 lakh in total, from Karan.
HS Vhatkar, senior police inspector of Amboli police station said they have arrested Simran and are also questioning Vijat and Ganesh to find out whether they have killed Karan or are hiding him somewhere. DCP Pratap Dighavkar said, “We have found that Simran had used Karan’s credit card even in Bangkok, where she was recently. We are questioning her to find about Karan Kakkad. We will also question Vijay Palande, as he was the mastermind in the case. We have found that he even had a passport by the name of Karan Sood and would use this girl to lure men. All will be clear once we question all the accused. Initially cops had suspected that Karan Kumar Kakkad had disappeared of his own accord, since his BMW was missing too.”
Rising to the bait
Police said that Tiku was not the only target of Vijay and Simran. According to his modus operandi, Vijay targeted single rich men, who were essentially outsiders in the city. Vijay then befriended them and used Simran to entice them. He would then take his prey out of the city on some pretext and then loot and kill him.