From a rundown movie theatre to a red-light district, then off to a murder suspect’s hometown, and back to a country bar at Nagpada -- Wadala police went on a month-long chase after some assassins with just two movie tickets in its pocket in the form of evidence. A few pegs down, one of the inebriated killers eventually confessed to cops, and named his accomplices, one of whom also arrested.
Wadala police had got a call about an unidentified body in Cotton Godown at Bombay Port Trust railway line near Reay Road station around 10 pm on June 3. “We searched the body, which was of a 40-year-old male, and found two movie tickets of Nishad theatre, Nagpada,” said senior inspector of Wadala police station Pandurang Ingule.
Cops then approached the manager of the hall to get details about the tickets and find out if he had any CCTV footage of the people purchasing them. “The manager told us the patrons of the theatre are usually labourers, who come there with prostitutes from the adjacent Madanpura, Grant Road areas,” said Shakir Patel, sub-inspector of Wadala police station.
Police then made around 3,500 copies of a photograph of the victim and circulated them among sex workers in the vicinity. Around ten constables were deployed for this exercise and on the seventh day a prostitute identified the victim as a plumber named Khan, who used to come to her with a friend Anurud Ali, hailing from her native Murshidabad district in West Bengal.
“We then picked up Anurud from Murshidabad with the help of the sex worker. He told us that he and Khan used to work as plumbers on construction sites, but never at the same place for more than two to three days. But Anurudh told us that he had seen the victim a few days before the murder with a plumber who had a broken leg,” said Ingule.
Anurud also told the police that the person he had seen with Khan used to visit Royal country bar in Nagpada every evening. Cops set a trap, and the man in question confessed to the crime after downing a few glasses of liquor and some chicken biryani.
Here’s what happened. On June 3, Shrihari Balani alias Munna, Suraj Rushidev alias Batla, Mohammad Ansari and Sikander Khan were having a few drinks at the bar. “Sikander Khan, the victim, paid the bill and in the process revealed to the others that he had around Rs 3,000 cash in his pockets. The quartet later decided to go for dinner to Wadala. They alighted at Rey road station and stabbed Khan to death at an isolated place,” said Patel.
Cops have arrested Balani and Rushidev, and are searching for Ansari. Balani takes contracts from builders for plumbing work at sites and the others worked under him. But Sikander Khan was insubordinate and even abused him on occasions. So, the three decided to kill him and also pick up the Rs 3,000 in cash.
While Balani and Khan hail from Uttar Pradesh, Rushidev is from Bihar.