Even after the cops managed to regain custody of the man, who had plunged from a bridge over Mithi River in BKC, API Arjun Jagdale wept thinking that had the thief died, it would have counted as a custodial death and marred his career
It was a Tuesday morning replete with drama as the Antop Hill police managed to nab a thief who had slipped out of their custody and jumped into the Mithi River in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC). The brief escape reduced a police inspector to tears, who feared that if the accused died in his attempt to flee, they would never be able to prove the cause of his death and instead would be blamed for it.
(Left) The spot from where the accused jumped off the bridge. He was later found hiding behind one of the pillars by API Jagdale and a constable. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
On Monday, Mahendra Kumar Lalgovind Shresta alias Mohammed Salim Khan (42) was arrested for stealing a car. Arjun Jagdale, assistant police inspector and in-charge of the case from Antop Hill police station, said, “Shresta worked as a car driver and was arrested after his employer registered a car theft case. He suspected his driver had a hand in it. After we arrested Shresta, he confessed to the crime and told us he had sold the car to a garage owner in BKC.”
Police decided to lay a trap and recover the vehicle. Jagdale said he and his team of officers and constables, along with Shresta, reached the bridge over Mithi River in BKC and parked the police jeep there. “We went there around 9 am and decided to park our car on the bridge, far away from the shop, since going too close to the garage would’ve alerted the owner,” Jagdale said.
The officer, along with his staff, decided to visit the garage, leaving two constables behind with Shresta. Sensing an opportunity, the accused claimed he wanted to answer nature’s call and was allowed to alight from the jeep. While doing so, he pushed the two constables and started running. However, he could only limp due to an injury he had sustained in his leg earlier. Seeing that the two constables were in pursuit, Shresta decided to jump off the bridge.
At the same time, Jagdale and his team were returning to the jeep after finding the shop closed. Seeing the accused leaping off, Jagdale and a constable leapt in after him. The police control room was apprised of the development and the information was relayed to the nearby Kurla police station.
Police Inspector Pradeep Londe from Kurla police station said, “We were informed about the incident. Even the local fire brigade was called. When we arrived, we noticed that API Jagdale and a constable were in the river looking for the accused.” After a 40-minute search, Jagdale managed to nab the 42-year-old, who was hiding behind a pillar of the bridge.
Having taken him back into custody, Jagdale broke down and started crying. “I had witnessed the Khwaja Yunus episode as a member of the Crime Branch. Had the accused died in his attempt to escape, it would’ve been difficult to prove the cause of his death. It would’ve counted as a custodial death and my career would’ve been harmed,” said the officer.
Jagdale was referring to Yunus (27), an engineer from Parbhani, who was suspected to have had a hand in the Ghatkopar bomb blasts of 2002. Police claimed Yunus tried to escape in January 2003 and was killed in an encounter. However, a CID inquiry ordered by the High Court found Yunus had died in police custody. Former API Sachin Vaze, police naiks Rajendra Tiwari and Rajaram Nikam, and constable Sunil Desai are accused in the custodial death case.
Meanwhile, Kurla police have booked Shresta under sections 224 (resistance or obstruction by a person to his lawful apprehension) and 511 (attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) of the Indian Penal Code. He was produced in court and remanded in judicial custody.