While murderers, rapists and terrorists roam scot-free, the city’s cops spent all of their energies and duty-hours yesterday looking for a stolen Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), and are likely to continue doing so till the stolen vehicle is restored to its owner. Of course, it is no ordinary vehicle, being owned by businessman Raj Shroff, who has the good fortune of being son-in-law to Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.
Officials from the Home Minister’s office in New Delhi are believed to have made calls to several senior police officers in the Mumbai Police, urging them to solve the case and recover the lost vehicle on priority basis. “The Mitsubishi Pajero was parked near Bawala Compound by Shroff’s chauffeur Vijay Kharat, who is a resident of the area, on Thursday night. Between 11.30 pm and 5 am, the vehicle was stolen by some unidentified people. Kharat, who usually drops the car at the owner’s residence and drives his bike back home, parked the Pajero near his home on Thursday as he had gotten late at work,” said Arun Chavan, police sub inspector of N M Joshi Marg police station.
As soon as Kharat approached the police, an FIR was registered with the NM Joshi Marg police for theft under Section 379 of the IPC. No time was lost in flashing the message on police controls, alerting all police officers about the theft, and providing them the vehicle’s plate number. Soon, the entire Crime Branch, which has several grave crimes like murder and dacoity to solve on its list of pending assignments, was asked to focus on finding the stolen car.
“The Crime Branch Unit III was immediately asked to look into the case on a priority basis, and round up all the suspected vehicle-lifters and history-sheeters. In an earlier incident, a Pajero owned by actor Ashutosh Rana was stolen from his residence in Andheri, after which the Crime Branch had managed to pick up the accused from West Bengal and detect the case. We have asked for the information on the accused in that case, and if needed we will investigate them as well,” said a police officer from the Crime Branch.
Sources confirmed that senior police officers in the Mumbai Police got calls from the Union Home Minister's office asking them to solve the case as soon as possible. “Not only is the Crime Branch and the N M Joshi police station working on the case, but cops from police stations like Thane, and Nashik, and even Uttar Pradesh police have also been informed about the case and have been asked to look for the car with the number plate DN 09E 905,” said a police officer.
“Cars stolen from Mumbai usually go to Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh, and are sold with fake documents in the state. Thus we have informed all those concerned,” said an officer from the Crime Branch. Additional Commissioner of Police (crime), Niket Kaushik, said, “The Crime Branch has a squad to investigate stolen motor vehicles. The squad is looking into the matter.”
When contacted, Raj Shroff confirmed that his SUV had been stolen, and said that a police complaint had been lodged as he was out of town. Shroff is married to Sushil Kumar Shinde’s second daughter Preeti Shroff and is executive director of Charak Pharma Pvt Ltd. He is also general secretary of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee.