Pramila Nadar, a vegetable vendor, used her stall in Andheri as cover to run a business of selling and renting country-made revolvers to chain-snatchers and robbers; caught red-handed by police posing as customers
Meet Poonam Nagar’s friendly neighbourhood bhajiwali, who provides her clientele with all kinds of wares, some loaded with vitamins, others with bullets. According to the police, the 42-year-old is well connected to petty thieves and chain-snatchers in the city, and would sell them firearms also lend them weapons on rent.
The stall at Poonam Nagar in Andheri (East) where 42-year-old Pramila Nadar would hawk vegetables. When mid-day photographer Nimesh Dave visited the spot yesterday, a man was running the stall
Pramila Anand Rajan Nadar hails from Karnataka but resides in the MMRDA colony in Poonam Nagar, Andheri (East). It was here that she ran her vegetable stall and a secret firearms business. Thanks to a tip-off, the police learnt of her modus operandi, and set a trap with a woman constable posing as a decoy customer.
According to the cops, Pramila Nadar was proving to be a tough nut to crack during interrogation, as she insisted she was not an arms dealer but was only trying to get rid of someone else’s gun
Nadar was arrested on Tuesday, after she sold a country-made revolver and three live cartridges to the constable. “She has been supplying firearms to robbers and chain snatchers for the past three years. Each weapon was sold for Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000, and was also offered on rent for Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000,” said an officer from the Anti-Terror Cell of Jogeshwari police station.
(From right) Constable Nirmala Taware, PSI Vilas Sawant and Police Naik Mahesh Chaudhari examine the country-made revolver they seized from vegetable seller Pramila Anand Rajan Nadar. While Sawant had got the tip-off about the illegal arms business run by the bhajiwali, Taware was sent as a decoy customer. Pic/Nimesh Dave
The officer added, “The stall was used as a cover for the weapons business. She would get a 10 per cent cut for every firearm she sold. We are looking for the associate who supplied the arms to her.”
Police Sub Inspector (PSI) Vilas Sawant, who is in charge of the ATC unit at Jogeshwari police station, got a tip-off about a local bhajiwali supplying arms to criminals. The police formed a team and placed Nadar under surveillance.
After they had watched her for nearly a fortnight and confirmed that the information was genuine, they sent Constable Nirmala Taware to pose as a customer. Taware got in touch with Nadar through the informant, and told her she wanted a revolver. When the constable said she was willing to pay good money, Nadar asked for Rs 15,000.
At first, the constable tried to bargain and bring the price down to Rs 12,000, but Nadar refused. On Tuesday, Nadar brought the country revolver and the cartridges to the rendezvous spot they had agreed on: near some shanties by the railway quarters in Jogeshwari, close to the Vanrai temple.
The constable alerted the cops waiting in plainclothes, and when the exchange took place, Nadar was arrested. Confirming the arrest, Senior Police Inspector Pradip Kale of Jogeshwari police station said, “She has been booked under Sections 3, 25 (licence for acquisition and possession of firearms and ammunition) of the Arms Act and was produced before the court. She is in judicial custody and further investigations are on.”
According to the police, Nadar was proving to be a tough nut to crack during interrogation. Although they suspect she has been involved in the arms business for three years, she has refuted this in her statement.
While she confessed to having sold the country revolver illegally, she claimed it was a one-time offence, and that she was only trying to get rid of a gun that someone else had given her. Contrary to this, the informant told the police that Nadar had supplied weapons to more than one person.
“We are sure she knows more than what she has revealed. We will put her through several rounds of questioning and get the truth out of her,” said one of the officers. Nadar told the police that three years ago she was running the MMRDA canteen in Andheri on contract basis.
That is where she met one Rajesh Mishra, who would visit the canteen every day. She claimed it was Mishra who had given her the revolver three months ago, saying he needed her to keep it safe. He had told her he would come back for the gun, but when he did not return, she decided to get rid of it.
Cops suspect the same man is her supplier, who has been providing weapons for the past three years. The police said Nadar used to live in Santacruz with her husband, but after her divorce in 2002, she began living in Poonam Nagar with her son, a 24-year-old driver.
She developed contacts with local goons, who brought her new customers for firearms. Six months ago, she left the MMRDA canteen for reasons unknown, and set up a vegetable stall, from where she had been operating in recent months, said officials.