The very container used by 28-year-old painting labourer Pravin Thakre to conceal and dump the body of his wife Reshma (25), proved to be the most compelling clue for cops to clinch the case. Railway Crime Branch on Saturday arrested Thakre and an aide after managing to track down the person who had sold the suitcase, and then the main accused.
Around 10 am on September 26, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) Government Railway Police (GRP) had found the body of a woman inside a red suitcase on platform number 9. The deceased had on a grey salwar kameez. Initial investigations revealed the Sinhagad Express had arrived at the platform some ten minutes before the discovery.
There was little evidence available to establish the identity of the woman. CCTV footage showed two people dumping the bag, but the visuals were not very clear. As the Sinhagad Express had come from Pune, police formed six teams and started checking out complaints of missing women from Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Thane, Dehu Road, Lonavala, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.
“When this did not yield results, we began questioning shopkeepers in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad to find out if any of them could identify this suitcase with the name ‘Crolla’. Finally a retailer, who remembered having sold the bag for Rs 1,000 to a customer came forward saying that the man bought the bag despite the handle being damaged.
“He said he just wanted it to store some clothes and would not be carrying it around,” said Rajendra Chavan, assistant police inspector of Railway Crime Branch.
The shopkeeper did not have a name or address of the customer. However, he told the cops that the person might be a resident of the neighbouring slums as he was dressed very shabbily.
Cops started a search and finally came to know about a missing woman who fit the description. “When we checked with her husband Pravin Vasantrao Thakre, a resident of Hanuman Nagar, Pimpri-Chinchwad, he could not give any straight answers. Ultimately, he owned up to killing the woman who was identified as Reshma,” said N H Shaikh, police inspector, Railway Crime Branch. Police said Reshma and Pravin got married in 2002 after falling in love. They fled Amravati and settled down in Pimpri-Chinchwad.
“The woman’s family severed all ties with her and that’s why relatives were unaware of her disappearance. When the victim saw her husband getting cosy with a neighbour, the couple had a huge fight on September 25, following which Pravin strangled and killed Reshma, put her body in the bag, and dumped it,” said Chavan.
Pravin and his friend Amol Gangadhar Karanjule boarded Sinhagad Express with the bag. They wanted to dispose it of at Lonavala station but failed. Their next choices were the ghats and the Mumbra Tunnel, but as there were many people near the doors, they could not succeed. Finally, they dumped the body at CST station.