The 12 men from the Mumbai crime branch had to be on their toes while accompanying Vijay Palande to Kumbharli Ghat, a mountain pass about 270 km from Mumbai, where he confessed to have disposed of body parts of aspiring producer Karan Kumar Kakkad.
Palande had earlier escaped from police custody while being taken to crime branch unit 8 office in Andheri in connection with the Arun Tikku murder case. Besides, Palande is quite familiar with the pass as he has crossed it several times while visiting his sister in Shirgaon village in Ratnagiri or enroute to his native place Talvatpali, and if he escaped it would it would have been difficult to track him down.
The New Saswad Valley View hotel located at the beginning of the Kumbharli Ghat from the Karad end, where the policemen stayed with Palande, had been turned into a fortress. The crime branch officials also took the help of Alore-Shirgaon police chowky located outside the hotel to ensure that Palande does not escape.
An officer from Alore-Shirgaon police station said, “Since they could not find the body parts on the first day, they decided to stay back and search again the next morning. The hotel was the obvious choice as it is located next to the ghat and they would not have to travel much the next day.”
A waiter at the hotel confirmed to HT, “Palande, along with 12 crime branch officers, stayed on the first floor for a night. He had been handcuffed and tied in the room. We were not allowed in it. We kept the food outside and left.”
Head constable Prabhakar Pawar from Alore-Shirgaon police station said, “We were asked to be extra vigilant as Palande had escaped in Mumbai once. Fewer people were allowed into the hotel located at an isolated spot.”
Another official added, “The crime branch team was very strict about who came near Palande, whose face had been covered with a black cloth. Since there was so much curiosity built up around him, one of our seniors [an assistant inspector] wanted the police to lift Palande’s veil to see how he looked. But the crime branch team did not allow him. That is the level of caution they maintained.”
The police team brought Palande and his accomplice Dhananjay Shinde to the spot separately. Palande gave directions the police to trace the head, and later Shinde helped them locate the torso suspected to be that of Kakkad.