The Mulund police on Friday arrested the 19-year-old nephew of Mangala Darbhe, who was murdered at her Mulund home on Wednesday.
Police said Saket Panase, who lived in Pune and was Darbhe’s sister’s son, committed the murder for money because he wanted to go abroad.
Panase had arrived in Mumbai hours before the murder and had initially claimed two unidentified men had stabbed his aunt. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 7), Sanjay Shintre said, “Panase has confessed to have murdered his aunt, Mangala Darbhe, to allegedly get hold of the cash and valuables kept in the house.”
Police said Panase had left his Pune home because he had failed his exams and was tired of the financial strain his family was under. “His family members were not aware that he had failed in his first year engineering exam,” said Police Inspector D. Jadhav.
The police found a bag belonging to Panase that had a passport application form and some clothes. When they questioned Panase about it, he said he had planned to go out of the county once he had collected enough cash.
Panase’s plan went haywire after Darbhe’s domestic help, Manisha Rathod (25), opened the door with a spare key around 2.30 pm on Wednesday. “Panase had stabbed Darbhe by then and was to pocket the cash and jewellery when Rathod entered the house using a spare key kept with Darbhe’s neighbour. This ruined Panase’s plan,” Shintre said.
Rathod had told the police that when she opened the door Panase started screaming for help claiming two unidentified accused had stabbed Darbhe and injured him.
The local court remanded Panase into police custody until September 1.
Panase lived in Pune with his parents. Investigations revealed that Panase’s attendance at his college in Pune was poor. When the murder was discovered on Wednesday, Panase had told the police that two unidentified persons, who had been following him from Pune, had attacked Darbhe with choppers. He claimed that when he tried to intervene the duo stabbed him too. Panase had sustained minor injuries and was in a municipal hospital until Thursday because he had been complaining of dizziness.
Darbhe lived with her son Anand and daughter-in-law Sarita. She has another son, who lives in the US.