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Loharia murder case: Ex-cop offers to confess to escape Crime Branch grilling

The gruesome murder of a builder in Navi Mumbai that was caught on a CCTV camera near the crime scene has taken a new twist. The Mumbai Crime Branch (CB) has now taken custody of former encounter specialist Emmanuel Amolik, and Sunil Loharia’s killers Venkatesh Shettiyar and Wajid Qureshi, who had been remanded to custody of Navi Mumbai police till February 27.

 
Former encounter specialist Emmanuel Amolik (left), who is currently in custody of the Crime Branch; Sunil Loharia, who was brutally murdered at Navi Mumbai on February 16

Amolik’s name cropped up in the case after Shettiyar, who was nabbed by some of Loharia’s employees, spilled the beans after he was arrested. Amolik’s lawyer had asked the magistrate to take a confession statement from his client, which the Crime Branch opposed, as the sleuths were aware that they would not be able to grill the accused if he was remanded to judicial custody.

Preliminary investigations have revealed that Amolik called the two killers at least a dozen times on February 16, which is the day they murdered Loharia. They have also learnt that he was present near the crime scene when Shettiyar shot Loharia and broke a coconut on his head, and Qureshi hacked at the victim’s neck with a meat cleaver.

“Amolik was sitting in his car barely 200 metres away from the spot where the assailants committed the crime. He had also called the killers at least 15 times before they murdered the builder. The killers are believed to have been under the influence of some narcotic substance while committing the murder,” said an officer of the CB on condition of anonymity.

Not so soon
The Crime Branch had opposed Amolik’s lawyer request for a confession statement under CrPc 164, to ensure that they can interrogate the accused further. “It was a well-planned strategy by Amolik, and if he had been given the chance to make a confessional statement, he might have evaded police custody by giving a false confession. Once he manages to get judicial custody on the basis of false statements, it will be very difficult to grill him again,” the CB officer said.

According to Amolik’s statement, while he was crossing the road at Moraj Circle in Sanpada in December last year, Loharia’s car collided with him and the builder threatened him with his gun. “We are not buying Amolik’s story. We are currently verifying all other angles in relevance to the case,” said another CB officer on condition of anonymity.

Joining the dots
ACP, Vashi division, Ranjit Dhuri, who knew Amolik, called him up after Shettiyar and Qureshi said that he had paid them to kill Loharia. Amolik however denied the allegations and claimed that it could be a ploy his enemies are using to implicate him in a crime. The ACP realised that something was amiss 10 minutes into the telephonic conversation when Amolik began enquiring about the confession made by the killers.

The ACP informed his superiors about Amolik’s suspected role. “When Amolik was intercepted, he continued to deny he played a role in the murder. However, when the killers were brought before Amolik and they named him in the presence of senior police officials, he knew his game was up,” said the Crime Branch officer.

Controversial past
Amolik’s name has cropped up earlier, for allegedly being hand-in-glove with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, at whose behest he killed one Mehmood Kalia when the latter was walking out of Mumbai airport. Kalia’s fiancée had filed several complaints in various courts against Amolik regarding his involvement in fake encounters during his tenure at the Crime Branch. Following the slew of allegations, Amolik was transferred to the Anti-Corruption Bureau in Solapur.

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