By the time, the police managed to “wrest the car” from Palam Vihar police custody and drive it back, it had clocked more than 7,000 km
The white Mercedes Benz S 320 is now a veteran of Indian roads. It has been driven to New Delhi from Kochi and then back in about two years. And that too after much twists and turns, excelling a thriller.
The car, with a registration number TN 02 AD 1770, started its journey through treacherous terrain of deceit and crime when Noufal and Habib, two business partners, bought it from the owners of the Jeppiar Educational Trust in Chennai. The partners pooled in Rs. 41 lakh to buy the car, but they fell out over how to split the money from selling the car.
That was just the beginning. Noufal tried to sell the car by himself. After coming to know this, Habib, along with six friends, allegedly tricked him under the guise of prospective buyers and brought him to a resort at Eloor. Noufal was forced to sign documents transferring the car to Habib, said police.
Though Noufal lodged a complaint with the police, nothing much happened. Even though Habib and his main accomplice Amjad, a history-sheeter, were picked up along with five others, Habib and Amjad came out on bail the same day. A case of dacoity was registered in January 2011.
As the police failed to recover the car, Noufal presented his case before the Petitions Committee of the Assembly led by Thomas Unniyadan, MLA. The committee pulled up the investigating team during its sitting at Kakkanad and gave strict instructions to actively pursue the case.
Following this, a team under Bijo Alexander, Assistant Commissioner, Thrikkakara and Baiju Poulose, Circle Inspector, Tripunithura, set out an a country-wide hunt for the car in September 2012. Amjad, who was arrested in another case, told the police during interrogation that the car was sold to a man named Pramod, who owned Grand Cars in Chennai.
A search at the office of the Grand Cars showed they had sold the car to Nipun Miglani, a native of Mumbai who worked in Chennai before moving to New Delhi. On reaching New Delhi, the team under Mr. Poulose found the car was now part of a fleet of super luxury cars at Big Boys Toyz, a pre-owned car showroom near Ghitorni Metro station.
When the police team got in touch with Mr. Miglani after many attempts, he said the car has since been sold to someone in Mumbai and needed three days to get the buyer’s contact address. Even as the city police team camped at New Delhi waiting for Mr. Miglani to turn up with the address, he moved the Sessions Court here, citing that he had made a genuine purchase and sought protection. His plea was turned down by the court and subsequently by the High Court of Kerala.
The Kochi city police team hit another dead end when Mr. Miglani went missing soon after that. They tracked his younger brother in Chennai and he told the police that Mr. Miglani had gone to Tirupati. Before he could be reached, the owners of the car “staged a minor accident,” and got it impounded by the Palam Vihar police in Gurgaon, Haryana. Now, the investigators had to secure an order from the court to release the car from the police custody. As the nation was reeling under protests on December 17 over the shocking gang-rape of young woman in New Delhi, the city police team was shuttling between the police station in Gurgaon and the court in New Delhi.
By the time, the police managed to “wrest the car” from Palam Vihar police custody and drive it back home, it had clocked more than 7,000 km. But the intrigue did not end. The police learnt that Noufal had transferred the ownership to another person named Sushil Gaba. The car, presently at Thrikkakara police station, is awaiting the team investigating the case to finalise its ownership.