Police informer gives Mumbai cops the slip four times

Jan 17, 2014, 11:16 IST | Saurabh Vaktania

The police have been unable to nab Ramchandra Chatri, allegedly the brain behind the plan to extort money from Salman Khan's lawyer; Chatri claims he knows all the police tricks, and has given officials the slip four times

Mumbai Police is having a nightmare trying to catch Ramchandra Chatri, the man who allegedly hatched the plot to extort money from Salman Khan’s advocate Dipesh Mehta. What is making matters more difficult for them is that Chatri was once one of their own he had been working as a police informer for the past 12 years. He has sent the Bandra police and the Property Cell of the Crime Branch into a tizzy over the past month.

Ramchandra Chatri regularly calls up Dipesh Mehta (below), telling him he will surrender. When cops lay a trap, he never turns up
Ramchandra Chatri regularly calls up Dipesh Mehta (below), telling him he will surrender. When cops lay a trap, he never turns up

Chatri had made a plan with two of his aides, Aftab Salim Sheikh and Anthony Dias, to issue threats to Mehta, and extract Rs 2 crore from him. The two aides were caught and they revealed his role in the case. Chatri is the son of the house help and former security guard at Mehta’s house. The lawyer had helped pay for his father’s cancer treatment and had also looked after his sisters. “I have seen him grow up in front of me. I’m surprised he made me a target,” Mehta had told MiD DAY earlier.

Lawyer Dipesh Mehta had helped pay for Chatri’s father’s cancer treatment
Lawyer Dipesh Mehta had helped pay for Chatri’s father’s cancer treatment

Chatri had been calling up the advocate and asking for money in the name of one ‘Azad gang’ (‘Lawyer continues to get extortion calls, police clueless’, January 1). He has also been giving death threats, saying he’d shoot Mehta or kill him using a hand grenade. He had told him, “I know all of the police’s tactics. I have knowledge of all their movements and how they are laying traps for me. It is impossible to arrest me. A police officer keeps giving me information.”

Chatri has openly dared the police to come and arrest him. However, police have been unable to lay their hands on him. He regularly calls up Mehta, telling him he will surrender. But when police lay a trap, he never turns up.

Four times unlucky
“We have laid a trap for him on four occasions, two at Hill Road in Bandra (West), near Podar School in Santacruz and one at Carter Road in Bandra (West). On all occasions, Chatri kept a close watch on the plainclothes policemen there. He came to the spot and fled after seeing police presence. We waited for several hours, but he didn’t come. He then gave us silly reasons for not showing up,” said an officer from Bandra police station.

On Carter Road, Mehta waited at a coffee shop for fours hours but Chatri did not turn up. At Podar School, Chatri came to the spot and a single cop caught hold of him. But the man is a black belt in karate and easily managed to free himself from the policeman’s hold, then escaped by the time the other policemen arrived at the spot. On two other occasions, he didn’t turn up at all.

Surprisingly, cops haven’t been able to track down his location as well. A police officer said, “Every time Chatri calls, he is travelling on a bike. Once he was talking with Mehta on the phone while riding a bike. His first location showed he was in Malad, but half an hour later his location indicated he was in Colaba. Working with the police, he has learnt all the tricks of the trade. He travels in narrow lanes most of the time.

As an informer, Chatri helped solve cases of theft and robbery, and catch drug addicts. He himself has criminal cases against him. He even visited his ailing father at Hinduja Hospital. When he was taken home, then, too, he made it a point to visit his father. Still, police weren’t able to nab him.

'Cops betrayed me'
MiD DAY had spoken with the the elusive man last week. During our conversation, he claimed he had been stabbed in the back by the police. He had told this newspaper, “I respect Mehta Sir; he is like a father figure to me. He has helped me every time in every possible way. But the Bandra police officials have betrayed me. I have worked for them on so many occasions. I have helped them solve so many cases and haven’t taken a single rupee, but they are framing me.”

He further said, “This is all a big mistake and these issues can be resolved. I assure you I will surrender today evening and meet you before surrendering to the cops. I have so many things to say against the cops, who are setting me up.” After this conversation, however, the promised surrender never materialised.

12 years ago
Chatri claims to have a story of his own, which seems right out of a Bollywood film. During conversation a week back, Chatri asked Mehta to stand outside his office at Dhoop Chhaon building in Bandra (West). When Mehta stood at the gate, Chatri called him and said, “All this started around 12 years back at the same place (gate), when I accidentally pushed a flat occupant. He suffered a fracture because of the fall. Your mother Pratibha (who is now 85 years old) approached the occupant to file a case against me.”

He was later arrested by the Bandra police on this complaint, and missed his SSC exams because he was in jail. He claims to have taken to crime owing to this incident. Meanwhile, Mehta is fuming at the inability of the police to track his tormentor down. “I’m shocked at the inefficiency of the police to arrest him. I hope he’s nabbed soon,” said Mehta. “I am under extreme stress, my freedom has been compromised. At the back of my mind, there is always a fear. I know he can do anything.” He added, “Looking at him, I have lost all faith in humanity; he grew up in front of me.”

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