After more than a month, the key accused in the case of assault on a Borivli real estate agent has been arrested at a resort near Panvel. On June 20, MiD DAY had reported the story of 50-year-old Dudhnath Verma who had been horrifically disfigured and left for dead by unidentified assailants (‘Should we disfigure you or kill you?’) The accused had a long-standing property dispute with Verma, following which he had kidnapped the victim on June 18 and had poured acid into his eyes and mouth.
According to the police, the accused Mahesh Pongulekar (35) is the director of a developer company, who was absconding since the date of the crime, and was constantly shuffling between Goa and Mumbai.
Finally, after receiving a tip-off, police arrested Pongulekar on Saturday at a Karnala resort where he was hiding. He was then produced at Bandra court and remanded in police custody till today. Police said that Pongulekar had given supari to six people to kill Verma over a property dispute. The men kidnapped him outside Jay Prakash hotel on SV Road, Goregaon (E) on June 18.
Six accused were arrested on July 15 for the attack on Verma and were identified as Mukesh Rikame, Balkrishna Swami, Vikas Gidhe, Vikas Shrivastav, Sandip More and Manohar Kishor Patel. They confessed during police interrogation that Pongulekar had given them supari to kidnap and kill Verma.
“The police have done a good job by arresting Pongulekar. However, they should have arrested him much earlier. As per the FIR, two other accused Ketan Shah and Jayesh Shah are yet to be arrested,” said Kamlesh Yadav, Verma’s advocate.
Police arrested Pongulekar under sections 307(attempt to murder), 363 (kidnapping), 394 (voluntarily causing harm in committing robbery), 324 (voluntarily causing harm by dangerous weapons), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) of IPC.
Meanwhile, Verma has turned partially blind and is currently recuperating at Nair hospital. “He had lost 90 per cent vision in his left eye and 60 per cent in his right, but doctors told us he would recover soon,” said Sunil Verma, brother-in-law of the victim.
On June 18 at around 6 pm, unidentified assailants scheduled a meeting with Verma on the pretext of purchasing a flat at Mira Road. After arriving at the spot at Brahma Kumari Chowk in Goregaon, Verma was suddenly forced into a car and taken to Ghodbunder forest at Mira Road, after which he was beaten with hockey sticks and doused in acid. Verma was then abandoned to fend for himself in the middle of nowhere. He staggered around disoriented till Tuesday morning, when locals found him at 5 am.