On Thursday morning, a Kurla neighbourhood woke up to the shocking sight of a man running through the local market stark naked, as two men (fully clothed) chased him with a syringe. While this might have come across as a comic scene to some, as the police later uncovered, it is more a horror story than comedy.
Unusual market scene: The naked man ran past stunned onlookers in broad daylight, as the two kidnappers chased him with a syringe with which they had threatened to inject him with HIV. Illustration/Uday Mohite
Around 8 am, the Nehru Nagar market in Kurla (east) was just warming up for business as the naked man darted past stunned onlookers, who immediately called the police control room. The police found the man hiding in a housing society in the vicinity, and tracked his pursuers down as well, arresting all three for creating public nuisance.
Plot laid bare
People might have assumed that the nude runner was merely streaking, but upon interrogating him, the police learnt that the man — identified as Panchnarayan Sahu, a local transporter — was actually on the run from two kidnappers who allegedly stripped him, beat him black and blue and were threatening to inject him with deadly HIV.
Victim: Panchnarayan Sahu used to work for the transport business owned by one of the accused, until it shut down. Sahu never suspected that his former employer blamed him for the failure of the business.
His assailants were identified as Pankaj Dubey, the owner of multiple petrol pumps in the city, and his servant Rajkumar Devendrapratap.
Explaining the case background, Senior Police Inspector Pramod Khoparde of the Nehru Nagar police station, said, “The victim, Sahu, was employed with Dubey since childhood, and the two parted ways just two years ago. Dubey owns several petrol pumps in the city and also had a transport business. Sahu was his most trusted employee then.”
However, Dubey later incurred huge losses and had to shut down his transport business. Following this, Sahu started running his own transport company, often filling up on petrol from Dubey’s pumps.
“Sahu’s trucks would fill fuel from the petrol pumps on credit; he owed Dubey R6.65 lakh. Dubey held two of his trucks in Kalamboli and asked him to pay the outstanding amount first,” added Khoparde.
On Wednesday evening, the victim took the cash to Dubey’s bungalow in Sahakar Nagar. However, Dubey wanted way more than money. Since his transport business flopped, he had blamed Sahu for the losses, and planned to torture him in vengeance.
“Tune mujhe nanga kiya, ab main tujhe nanga karoonga (You stripped me of my business, now I will strip you),” Dubey told Sahu, as he and his servant proceeded to do exactly that. “The accused blamed Sahu for the loss of his transport business, so he had planned to torture him. When Sahu arrived at his house, the accused and his servant undressed and thrashed Sahu. The duo recorded a video of the act and threatened to post it on Facebook to shame the victim. They even threatened to inject him with an HIV-infected syringe and locked him naked in a room the whole night,” said Khoparde.
It was the next morning that Sahu made a desperate bid to escape as the servant opened the door to check on him, running in the buff for nearly half a kilometre before he found sanctuary in a residential society. “The victim pushed the accused and ran naked through the whole market at Nehru Nagar. He hid in a housing society, but the locals got scared seeing a naked man running followed by two other men, so they informed the control room,” said Police Sub-Inspector Manisha Patil.
The two accused were booked under Sections 386 (extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt), 392 (robbery), 342 (wrongful confinement), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. They were remanded to police custody yesterday.