Mumbai: Robbers dig through sewage for 25 days in vain
Police nab construction workers looking to strike it rich after the tunnel they dug through concrete nullah opens up just one foot outside DN Nagar jewellery shop instead of within
They dreamt of breaking into a jewellery store and striking it rich, but after spending nearly a month digging through a sewer, two crooks found themselves in knee-deep in trouble (and sewage) instead. After braving the stench and putting in backbreaking work for 25 days, the would-be robbers realised they had miscalculated the length of the tunnel when they emerged one foot away from the shop. Worse, a local resident had spotted them digging and the cops were onto them the very next day.
Workers plug the hole made by the robbers, but it’s clear that digging one foot more would have made all the difference. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Almost perfect plan
Uttam Pawar (45), who hails from Parbhani district in Marathwada, and Jamil Sheikh (26), from Kishanganj in Bihar, were labourers at a construction site in Andheri. The site was barely a kilometre away from four jewellery stores on SV Road. Both were in desperate need of money and hit upon a plan to get rich — they found the opening of a drainage line at the construction site and the main accused, Pawar, realised that if they entered the nullah and walked a kilometre, they would stand very close to the jewellery stores and dig their way inside. What’s more, the four jewellery shops were situated cheek-by-jowl in the same building, so if they broke into one shop, they could easily get into the others. The plan was almost perfect.
The accused told their boss that they wanted to work at night since it was too hot in the day. Armed with just iron rods, for 25 nights, they would enter the sewer from the construction site, walk 1 km and begin digging. The tunnel ran parallel to SV Road, where the stores were situated, so the accused first dug sideways into the tunnel to get closer to the target, and then, upwards.
Each night, the duo entered the sewer from the construction site, walked 1 km down the nullah and then started digging. After tunnelling through six feet of concrete and earth, they finally emerged from an outlet around 11.30 pm on April 26. But, they soon realised they had missed the target by a foot. They ran away after a local resident spotted them and called the jewellery store owner. Illustration/Uday Mohite
After tunnelling through six feet of concrete and earth, they finally broke through the ground at around 11.30 pm on April 26. They emerged from the man-sized hole only to realise that they had not dug far enough — they were a foot off the mark, but it meant they could not get inside the shops. The noise from the digging woke one of the local residents who saw them outside the shop and informed the owner of Parshwa Jewellers.
The owner, Rajesh Rajwat (48), called the police but before they could get there, the crooks ran away. Inspector Balwant Deshmukh and API Sandeep Gite and the detection team figured out what had happened, and searched for the opening to the sewer.
The shop owner lost no time in plugging the hole dug by the robbers which emerged a foot away from the store (circled top). Pic/Nimesh Dave
They traced it to the construction site and also noticed sewage water splattered everywhere, as if someone had just emerged from the drain. They rounded up locals and labourers from the site and finally nabbed the accused.
Pawar was found to be a history-sheeter, while Sheikh is a first-time offender. Both were charged under Sections 380 (theft), 457 (house breaking at night), 511 (attempt to commit offence) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC. They are currently in judicial custody.