Commissioner of Police for Navi Mumbai Ashok Sharma and Senior Inspector Rao Saheb Sardesai of Vashi police station were in constant communication with Suresh Bijlani, suspected conspirator of the Sunil Kumar Loharia murder case, and close associate of fugitive gangster Chhota Rajan.
The call details record (CDR) retrieved from Bijlani’s phone show that in a few months, Sharma and Sardesai had exchanged 105 and 114 calls respectively with Bijlani. On March 21, 2013, Sandeep Loharia alias Sunny, son of the deceased Navi Mumbai builder Sunil Kumar Loharia, complained to several authorities, demanding action against Sharma and Sardesai. Sunny complained that he had requested Sardesai to record his father’s statement many times before his death, but was ignored.
“Sardesai was continuously pressurising me not to give the names of Bijlani and Garg,” said Sunny. Speaking to MiD DAY on an earlier occasion, Sharma had claimed that he did not know Bijlani. Later, however, he admitted that Anurag Garg had introduced him to Bijlani.
But CDR shows that before being appointed as the police commissioner of Navi Mumbai, Sharma had been in touch with Bijlani. Sharma became the CP on June 22, 2012. CDR show that on April 12, 2012 around 9.35 pm, Sharma and Bijlani talked with each other for 90 seconds. On June 16 around 10.56 pm, they had another conversation, 49 seconds-long. A slew of phone calls followed throughout the year (see box).
On February 14, two days before Loharia’s murder, a one-second-long call was exchanged between the two at 10.16 pm. Sharma and Bijlani also used to walk together on mornings at the NRI complex. When they got wind that Loharia had clicked their pictures on these walks, they shifted the venue of their meetings to DY Patil stadium, and met in the evenings.
On September 14, Vashi police had arrested Loharia. CDR from September 13 show that Bijlani spoke to Sardesai for 18 seconds on that day. On the day of the arrest, they had five conversations for 83, 97, 57, 69 and 108 seconds respectively.
The Mumbai Crime Branch has arrested former encounter specialist Emmanuel Samuel Amolik, local builder Sumit Bachewar, two hitmen Venkatesh Shettiyar and Wajid Qureshi in the case. Loharia was shot dead in broad daylight outside his office in Vashi on February 16.
According to Crime Branch officials, both Bijlani and Garg were called in for questioning when the case was with the Navi Mumbai police. “Even though they are the prime suspects in the case, the cops have not taken necessary precaution, such as impounding their passports,” said a Crime Branch officer, on condition of anonymity.
Bijlani and Garg are absconding. The courts have rejected their anticipatory bail plea.
The Other Side
“All allegations are false. It is untrue that I spoke to Bijlani before becoming commissioner of police,” said Sharma. Senior Inspector Rao Saheb Sardesai said, “I am in a meeting. Call me later.” Himanshu Roy, joint commissioner of police (crime) and Niket Kaushik, additional commissioner (crime) were not available for comment.
CALL RECORDS: SHARMA AND BIJLANI
July 13, 2012: 142 seconds
July 18, 2012: 136 seconds
August 10: 170 seconds
August 11: 201 seconds
August 13: 185 seconds
September 4:160 seconds
September 5: 277 seconds
September 11: 368 seconds
December 31, 2012: 116 seconds