It was the mobile phone records of the accused in the Charkop murder case that led to the police arresting Asha Wankhede, 60, wife of the murdered former banker Prakash Wankhede, and two others.
An officer from the Charkop police station said that while they were checking three of the accused’s mobile phone records, they got suspicious as they were detected to be together right when Prakash allegedly went off the radar on April 11 and 12, 2016. He added that on interrogation, the accused confessed to the crime.
According to the police, Prakash frequently suspected Asha of having an extra-marital affair. She got frustrated with the constant suspicion and decided to kill him. She sought the help of her sister Vandana Korve, 40, and Vandana’s boyfriend Nilesh Supale, 36, to kill her husband. For this, she gave a cheque of Rs 2 lakh and Rs15,000 in cash to both of them and an extra Rs1 lakh in cheque to help dispose of Prakash’s body.
On April 10, 2016, Prakash, who retired as a deputy branch manager of a bank, and Asha left for Ahmednagar to attend a family function. They were joined by Vandana and Nilesh in an SUV that belonged to a friend of Nilesh.
At the intervening night of April 11-12, last year, the trio fed kheer laced with sleeping pills to Prakash. When he fell unconscious, Asha hit him on the head with an iron rod and killed him. The trio bundled the body in a jute sack, loaded him in the SUV and dumped the body 27 kilometers away from her sister’s house to Parner, said the officer.
The trio then returned to Mumbai in the same SUV on April 12 as Asha told them that she was scared to return to Mumbai alone. After dropping off Asha, Korve and Nilesh returned to Ahmednagar.
Two weeks later, Asha approached the Charkop police on April 27 last year and lodged a missing person complaint. She told the police that her husband had asked her “not to contact him for 15 days and he wanted to be by himself”.
She claimed that she grew worried when he did not return home and went to the police. While investigating the case last year, the police found no leads. Interviews of family members led to nothing as none of the family members raised any suspicion on anyone.
Another officer said that Vandana sought Nilesh’s help to kill Prakash as he was an RTI activist and was politically active in the local area. He also ran a security agency and so when Vandana discussed her brother-in-law’s murder plan with him, he agreed to help hide his body. In return Vandana decided to share the contract money with him.
Meanwhile, the Ahmednagar police had found Prakash’s body but could not identified him because due to lack of any id on him. The Nagar police registered a case of murder but they did not find anything during investigation. It was only during the analysis of the accused’s mobile phone records did the police find a connection among the accused and arrested them.