Mumbai

Quick-thinking auto driver helps solve Palghar murder

Notes down vehicle number, which leads cops to 4 accused

The presence of mind shown by an autorickshaw driver helped the police unravel the murder of a Mira Road-based businessman, who was allegedly kidnapped and killed last week.

According to the Palghar police, Arif Shaikh went missing on May 9, and his family approached the Mira Road police. At the same time, an autorickshaw driver approached the Palghar police and said one of his passengers had been kidnapped on the same day.

“The autorickshaw driver told us he was taking a man to Palghar when an SUV blocked their path, and two to three men forced his passenger into the SUV. The autorickshaw driver had noted down the car’s registration number,” additional superintendent of police (Palghar) Yogesh Chavan said.

Using the vehicle registration details, the police first picked up Prashant Mahajan from his home town, Jalgaon, in the early hours of Monday. Mr. Mahajan’s interrogation led the police to Prashant and Sanjay Sankhe in Palghar.

Prashant Sankhe

Prashant Sankhe  

Smita Shetty

Smita Shetty  

“The interrogation of the three men enabled us to arrest a fourth accused, Smita Shetty, on Tuesday. She was working in Bengaluru, and we called her for inquiries. We placed her under arrest after inquiries established her involvement in the offence,” Mr. Chavan said.

All four accused were produced in court and have been remanded in police custody till May 22. Mr. Chavan said the motive for the murder is still being verified.

An officer who is part of the investigation said Ms. Shetty and Prashant Sankhe were close to each other, and Ms. Shetty was working for a construction firm till last month. “Shaikh had learned of some financial misappropriations that Ms. Shetty was involved in, which he brought to her employer’s notice, leading to her termination. Prima facie inquiries indicate that Ms. Shetty and Prashant Sankhe hatched the plot together, and enlisted the other two accused,” the officer said.

On Tuesday afternoon, the police recovered Shaikh’s remains from the Birwadi forest in Palghar, where the accused allegedly took him and burned his body. The police have also recovered the SUV used in the alleged abduction.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 10:34:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/quick-thinking-auto-driver-helps-solve-palghar-murder/article27131062.ece

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