The victim was wearing gold worth Rs 3 lakh on him at the time of his kidnapping; his battered body was found near the Ghodbunder creek
Nikunj Chaurasia’s father Munna, a well-known paan-seller at Bandra Talao, near his store after his son’s cremation on Sunday. Pics/Satej Shinde
The son of Bandra’s famous paanwala, Munna Chaurasia, was found murdered on the outskirts of Mumbai a few days ago. And as a cruel twist of fate would have had it, the grieving family cremated Nikunj (23) on Saturday, which happened to be his birthday. The Kashimira and Bandra police are investigating to find the killer.
Munna has been famous around the Bandra Talao and adjoining areas for his paan for over two decades.
The Kashimira police are involved as they had received a call about a partially naked body with injuries to the head and upper body in the creek at Ghodbunder Road on November 24, which was later identified as Nikunj’s. He was repeatedly hit on the head with a stone and killed.
“Nikunj would remind me about his birthday each time he visited the shop. He used to say ‘Papa, iss baar mera birthday galli me manaayenge, DJ music ke saath, biryani order karenge aur sab ko bulaayenge’ (Dad, this time I want to celebrate my birthday in this lane [where Munna’s shop is located] with DJ and biryani for dinner, and we will invite everyone). Everyone came, but not for his birthday, for his cremation,” a weeping Munna told mid-day.
“He was my only son; we were planning to get him married. He used to come to Bandra from our residence in Null Bazar on the bike I had gifted him four years ago. There is no question of him going to Kashimira; he only had friends in Bandra and South Mumbai, why would he go to Kashimira?
“On November 23 around 8.15pm, when he was at the shop, he told me he was hungry and wanted to go for snacks. He walked through the lane; when he did not return for over half an hour, I called him on his cell phone. He told me he was still having snacks and would come in a while. We spoke again around 9.15 pm and he said he would be returning shortly, but when he failed to turn up till 10.40 pm, I called him again and his phone was switched off. I thought he would be at his favourite burger stall near Bandra junction. I waited for him till midnight and then started searching for him in the vicinity with a few locals. When we could not find him, I lodged a missing person complaint at Bandra police station around 2 am. We also circulated his photo on WhatsApp to people known in the area and among his friends...”
Robbery the motive?
Senior inspector Vilas Sanap of Kashimira police station said, “We registered a case under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code and handed over the body to the family. Further investigations are on.”
The body was sent to JJ hospital for post-mortem. “The report is awaited; there were injuries on the right side of his head, it looked like he was attacked with a stone. Also, there were multiple marks on his body, including his chest,” said an officer.
Munna said Nikunj loved wearing gold ornaments; he used to wear chains, bracelets and rings. “The day he disappeared he had on him nine tolas of gold — three chains with pendants, two rings and a bracelet — and R12,000 in cash. When we identified him in JJ hospital, all the valuables were missing,” he added.
As part of the investigations, the police have recovered footage from two CCTVs close to Bandra Talao — Nikunj was seen walking, later having a conversation with two people known to him, and then moving towards Bandra junction.
An officer from Bandra police station said, “We are coordinating with the Kashimira police in the investigations. The process of retrieving the deceased’s cell phone records is underway.”
Senior inspector of Bandra police station Pandit Thackrey said, “The case has not been transferred to us. We are assisting as the missing person complaint was lodged here.”