The mystery surrounding Vijay Palande’s ‘illegally seized’ red Skoda Fabia deepened on Tuesday, after Senior Inspector Deepak Phatangre of Crime Branch Unit VIII clarified that though the car had not been seized by police, it was indeed lying in their compound. Earlier, MiD DAY had reported how Palande had complained to the commissioner in a letter that Phatangre was using his car (‘Vijay Palande claims his car is being illegally used by a senior cop’, March 12, 2013).
Speaking to MiD DAY, Senior PI Deepak Phatangre said, “The Crime Branch Unit VIII’s premises are on rent and used by seven other tenants. Many people come and go here. There is no question for us having seized the car if Palande drove it here voluntarily and left it. Since the premises are on rent, the car is not officially seized and is not in police custody. If he wants to recover the car, he is welcome to come and take it.”
Responding to this, Kaushik Mhatre, Palande’s lawyer said, “How can they say the car is not in their custody? They have CCTV cameras located all over the premises, so they can definitely distinguish between Palande’s car and one belonging to another resident.”
Rubbishing allegations that he has been using Palande’s car, Phatangre added, “The car is not in any usable state, so the question of my driving it doesn’t arise.” Phatangre denied ever having met Palande in his capacity as a ‘police informant,’ as claimed in the letter. “He may claim to have worked for the police, but this is untrue. I had never even seen his face until his arrest.”
Palande’s lawyer however, refuted this claim. “The truth is that shortly before his arrest, Palande was helping the police in busting an illegal imported car racket. Due to his proficiency in English, he was to pose as a prospective buyer, while police set up a trap. The night of his arrest, he had gone to the Unit VIII office to help with investigations.”
Phatangre added, “We are going to use Palande’s letter as evidence in a departmental inquiry to prove the nexus between Palande and suspended police officers Amol Deshpande and Sanjay Shinde. It is already known that Shinde was using Palande’s car, a Mahindra Xylo which was confiscated by the Oshiwara police.”
According to the police, though Palande has implied in his letter that he came to the Unit VIII office ‘on instructions’ of constable Amol Deshpande, in his police statement he said that Deshpande accompanied him in the car.