Why did stockbroker Gautam Vora go out of his way to allegedly provide material and logistical support to a murder accused on the run? After Vora’s arrest yesterday, Crime Branch officers are now sleuthing to determine if he is in any way connected to Karan Kakkad’s murder. Cops have not ruled out the theory that Vora may have instigated the prime accused Vijay Palande to bump off Kakkad.
Just a couple of days before Vora was arrested, MiD DAY had contacted him and asked him if he was acquainted with Palande. Vora had outright denied having any relations whatsoever with Palande, and had insisted that he only had a passing acquaintance with Simrin, whom he had met ‘casually’ at a party.
Additional Commissioner of Police Deven Bharti revealed that after Palande slipped through the police’s fingers on April 10, he immediately dispatched an SOS phone call to Vora. Vora picked up Palande from Marine Lines station in his car, and drove him to a hotel in Churchgate. Vora has admitted to the police Palande asked him for money with which he could pay for a hotel room. Vora did not have cash, but offered Palande his credit card. Vora had brought with him a change of clothes for Palande, and while Palande showered in the hotel room, Vora waited outside. He left after Palande changed his clothes.
Cops also confirmed that Palande was to leave for Thailand the same night, but it is still unclear if Vora helped him with cash and travel tickets. Vora was arrested and produced in the Esplanade court number 37 yesterday. Crime Branch officers have been on Vora’s trail from the day they stumbled upon his phone number on Palande’s accomplice Simrin Sud’s call log.
Vora, in his statement to the police, has insisted that he did not know anyone by the name of Vijay Palande, but was acquainted with Simrin’s ‘brother’ Karan Sood. It has been established earlier in investigations that Palande used the alias of Karan Sood in his liaisons with his two murder victims — Kakkad and Arun Tikku.
Vora was introduced to Simrin in the year 2005 and the two were romantically involved. Simrin had revealed to Vora that her brother Karan was in jail and she needed money to bail him out. Vora had then paid for Karan’s bail expenses, and for the period of their relationship, also funded Simrin’s extravagant lifestyle. They had eventually broken off their relationship. Crime Branch sources also revealed that it was subsequent rekindling of their romance that allegedly caused friction between supermodel Viveka Babajee and Vora.
In 2007 Simrin introduced Vora to Palande alias Karan Sood. In 2008, Simrin met Kakkad at a party. Learning that he was wealthy, she promptly introduced him to Palande. Crime Branch officers are now investigating whether Simrin’s simultaneous relationships with Kakkad and Vora had become a sore point between the two, leading to enmity. Sources revealed that Vora may have tried to evoke jealousy in Palande over the growing closeness between Kakkad and Simrin, provoking Palande to brutally murder Kakkad.
The great escape
Palande, a key accused in the murder of Delhi-based businessman Arun Kumar Tikku and aspiring producer Karan Kakkad, had escaped on April 10 from the police jeep in which he was brought from a Court to local police station. Later, he was re-arrested at Churchgate station. Inspector Sanjay Shinde and constable Amol Deshpande were suspended for alleged misconduct and keeping close relations with Palande. Action was taken against Shinde for being negligent as he was in the same vehicle from which Palande escaped, while constable Deshpande was allegedly close to the gangster.