It’s become more than apparent that the sole motive behind the murders of Vinod Broker and his associate Usha Nair was grabbing the former’s lavish Juhu apartment. And to ensure this, the three accused who are now in police custody compelled Vinod to ink a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), before strangulating the victims and then burning the bodies.
Cops are now trying to establish how long the 8,000-sq ft Janki Kutir property had been up for sale, and how many prospective buyers had approached Vinod. Koregaon Park cops said they have also come to know that Vinod maintained a diary with details of such people. A senior police official said that with the help of the information in the diary, they could now contact these persons. “There is a possibility that the three arrested are mere foot soldiers, being used by someone who had his eyes on the property,” he said.
Cops have learnt that a few months ago, an actor had contacted Vinod, offering Rs 30 crore for the property including the accommodation, the lawn and a vehicle. Vinod had agreed, but he later changed his mind after Ibrahim offered him a lot more money. Another police officer from Koregaon Park revealed that the victim had finalised the deal for Rs 42 crore with Ibrahim.
Senior Inspector Shivaji Kamble of Koregaon Park police station said that the main accused wanted the slain realtor to sign the MoU so that he could later prove that the deceased had sold the property to him, in case there was litigation. He added that Ibrahim was arrested four years ago by Mumbai police for stealing diamonds worth Rs 1.5 crore from a store.
Ibrahim and Ravindra were produced before the court and have been remanded in police custody till May 9. Mumbai Crime Branch nabbed Nitin Bhatia yesterday and handed him over to Pune police. According to cops, Nitin was working for BEST in Deonar for 15 years till 2007, when he took voluntary retirement and had been driving tourist vehicles belonging to the Girikand Travels.
He had met Ibrahim a month ago and the latter offered to pay him double his salary to drive him to Pune whenever needed to inspect a plot that he intended to buy. “Ibrahim had planned to kill Vinod from the beginning for which he was gathering associates. He knew Nitin was a good driver. Ibrahim also roped in Ravindra, a construction site supervisor, luring him with the opportunity to rebuild the Juhu property,” said a police officer.
Cops said that 10 days before the murder, Ibrahim had met Vinod thrice with the intention of getting the MoU from him, for which he had paid the realtor Rs 4 crore as token money. When Ibrahim failed, he asked Ravindra and Nitin to help him kill Vinod. Two days before the murders, the trio visited Shivad Village beyond Pune, to see the plot where they would dump the bodies. On the day of the crime they bought a can of petrol and ropes from Khar and set out in the Innova car for Vinod’s residence.
Change of plans
“Nitin was initially driving the Innova, while Ibrahim and Ravindra sat in the back, with the victims in the middle,” said Sanjay Satardekar, in-charge of Mumbai Crime Branch, Unit IX. However, when they reached Kashedi Ghat, Ibrahim switched places with Nitin. The accused wanted to dump the bodies as far as possible, so two days ago they went to Karnataka border, hoping that the case would then be handled by cops of a different state. However, they realised that it was under the jurisdiction of the military and abandoned the plan and returned to Pune.