The Oshiwara murder case took dramatic twists and turns yesterday, with the Mumbai Police Crime Branch cracking the case and arresting three of the accused. Hours after the police press conference, the prime accused, 41-year-old Vijay Palande, had escaped. This was confirmed by police spokesperson Nisar Tamboli. Late last evening, police revealed that Palande had slipped through the cops’ fingers when a team was taking him from the venue of the police conference to unit 8 in Andheri.
Palande and the other two accused — Dhananjay Shinde (34) and Manoj Gajkosh — were allegedly former members of Santosh Shetty’s gang.
The April 7 murder of 67-year-old Arun Tiku had made headlines when the sexagenarian’s stabbed body was discovered in the bathroom of the 3-BHK flat his son Anuj owns in Oshiwara. According to the police, the accused eliminated Arun so that they could take over his son’s flat without any opposition. Cops have also discovered that they had planned to eliminate Anuj soon after.
The back-story of the murder is almost as intriguing as the events that followed the arrest of the accused. Palande was the mastermind behind the plot, and had hatched the murder plans in order to acquire Anuj’s apartment. He met Anuj two years ago through a common acquaintance who introduced him as her brother. He identified himself as Karan Sood. Gradually, Palande established close connections with Anuj, who increasingly started trusting him, unaware that his new friend had a criminal background, who had been arrested for the murders of Air India union leader Anup Das and his father in 2010, and had even served a nine-year-long term in Nashik Jail.
Palande had planned to grab Anuj’s property and eventually bump him off, said the police. About a fortnight ago, Palande wangled an arrangement, which allowed his accomplices Shinde and Gajkosh to live at Anuj’s flat as paying guests. Palande introduced Anuj to his German wife Nivis Legensa and convinced Anuj to prepare a leave and licence agreement with her against a deposit of Rs 5 lakh and monthly rent of
Rs 30,000. He planned to eventually use this agreement to grab Anuj’s apartment.
When Arun learnt of the arrangement his son was entering into, he raised strong objection. He rushed to the city from New Delhi, arriving five days ago. Finding Shinde and Gajkosh living in the flat, he threw them out. “On the night of April 7, Palande offered to take Anuj on a holiday to visit a casino in Goa. With Anuj beside him, he started driving towards Goa, but stopped at a farmhouse in Chiplun. Meanwhile, Shinde and Gajkosh went to the Andheri flat and murdered Arun,” said API Sajeev Gawde from unit 8.
The police have recovered the murder weapon from the flat, along with a hacksaw, hammer, large black polythene bags, and suitcases. “It appears that they wanted to dispose of the body by cutting it into pieces,” said Gawde. In course of their investigations, cops came in contact with a real estate agent, and learnt that the flats had been leased to the German wife of Anuj’s friend Karan Sood. The agent also provided a photograph — looking at it, cops realised that the friend was actually history-sheeter Palande. Cops then found his number, and traced it to Chiplun, where they found Anuj and the other accused.