Suicide bid, cold feet and fiction

A 21-year-old CoEP student, Nikhil Gatagat, cooked up a story of having been kidnapped from the city, robbed and dumped in the creek off Vashi near Mumbai earlier this month after he lost his nerve while trying to commit suicide and was rescued by fishermen, police investigations have revealed.

The police said failure in exams was the reason behind the suicide attempt by Gatagat, a student of electronics and telecommunication engineering at the College of Engineering, Pune.

Fan of Agatha Christie
The police said Gatagat was a voracious reader of Agatha Christie’s crime and suspense novels and a wannabe writer. Gatagat had told the police he had been kidnapped and looted by four people, including an autorickshaw driver, and then thrown into the Vashi creek on July 7.

Confession: Nikhil Gatagat at the Vashi police station after his rescue earlier this month. He cooked up a story of having been kidnapped from the city, robbed and dumped in the Vashi creek to mislead the Vashi police station officials, but confessed it was all fiction when officials of the Anti-Extortion Cell asked him some tough questions. File Pic

All that turned out to be fake as in the investigation conducted by the Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) of the city police it was revealed that Gatatat had tried to commit suicide by jumping into the creek because he was frustrated with the direction his life was taking.

The police said that Gatagat got scared after he hit the water, and was rescued and brought to the Vashi police station, where he narrated a fictitious story about being a victim of kidnap, looting and attempt to murder.

The police said Gatagat, an HSC topper in the Latur division, had never wanted to pursue engineering and that his forte was writing, but under parental and peer pressure he took admission in CoEP.

They said he started residing at the Firodia hotel in Deccan Gymkhana and started exploring his true passion, even becoming a member of the British Library on FC Road and spending hours at the facility reading crime and suspense novels by Agatha Christie and other writers.

“He started neglecting his studies and bunking classes, and that resulted in low marks in all semesters, while in the fifth and sixth semester he failed as he did not appear for the examination,” Senior Police Inspector Sachin Sawant of the Anti-Extortion Cell said.

Sawant said Gatagat even told his parents in Latur he had received good grades in all semesters. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) Vinod Satav said Gatagat had claimed that he was robbed of Rs 65,000 by three people and an auto driver, abducted and subdued before being thrown into the Vashi creek.

“His claims turned out to be completely false,” Satav said. “After our Crime Branch took up the case from the Deccan Gymkhana police station, a detailed investigation was launched, and on Wednesday when the sleuths of the AEC got tough with Gatagat, he confessed all and said that he was feeling frustrated and so had decided to commit suicide.”

The events of July 7
According to Gatagat’s confession, he arrived at the Swargate bus stand on July 7 from his hometown Latur at 6.30 am and from there he boarded a Mumbai-bound bus, getting off
at Vashi. He then went to the Crossword Book Store and bought some novels, checked into a lodge near Inorbit mall and read the novel.

“In the afternoon, he checked out of the lodge and in the evening he came to the Vashi bridge in an auto,” Sawant said. “He dumped his two bags, including the one with the Rs 65,000 in it, in the water and jumped off the bridge, but when he hit the water from a height of 100 feet, he got scared and started swimming. He was spotted by two fishermen, who rescued him and later he was brought to Vashi police station. At the police station he spontaneously made up a story of looting, kidnapping and attempt to murder by four unidentified people.”

Sawant said after the case was transferred to the Deccan Gymkhana police station from Vashi, the police even released three sketches of suspects based on Gatagat’s description of his fictitious assailants.  During this time, Gatagat went home to his parents in Latur as he had suffered a back injury for which doctors had advised him rest.

How the case got solved
“After we (AEC) got the green signal to take over the case, we first went to his college and spoke to his friends, from whom we got to know that he was quite an introvert and did not mingle with others,” Sawant said. “We also got to know that he is fond of reading and writing.”

The AEC officials then checked all marksheets and learnt that he had failed in two semesters as he had not appeared for the examination. From CoEP, the AEC came to know that Gatagat would not even attend college for months together.

“We then pulled out his call detail reports for the past one year and were shocked to see that for the entire year he had mostly kept to Fergusson College Road and Firodia Hostel,” Sawant said.

He said all this made them decide on asking Gatagat some tough questions, which they did when the young man came to the AEC on Wednesday.
“We got a little hard on him and forced him to reveal the truth,” Sawant said. “During the interrogation, he burst into tears and narrated the whole story.”

ACP Satav said the police were not thinking of registering an offence against Gatagat as it would only add to his frustration. He said the final call on whether to file a case or not would be taken by the Deccan Gymkhana police station, where the kidnap, robbery and attempt to murder case was registered.

A senior police official of the Deccan Gymkhana police station said it was too early to decide whether to spare Gatagat a case against him or not. “The process of recording Gatagat’s statement is still on and whether to lodge a case of attempted suicide and providing false information to the police against him or not will be decided after consultations with the public prosecutor,” the official said. 

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