Traffic constable Navnath K Ghate was busy manning the traffic at the Bharatmata signal on Monday when he spotted a man running past him. When he saw a bloodstained knife in his hand, the policeman didn’t think twice about his safety and started to chase him.
Ghate, along with his colleague Lahu Sabale, overpowered 60-year-old Ashok Chavan while he was trying to flee after stabbing Ajay Khamkar inside Bharatmata cinema.
Khamkar and his cousin Tushar had an argument with Chavan when he was trying to break the queue at the ticket counter.
“I saw the knife in the man’s hand and people were running behind him. I knew I had to act,” said Ghate. “It was a question of our integrity. People would have blamed us if he had escaped.”
Ghate and Sabale ran behind Chavan for around 100 metres and finally caught him near Jijibai lane.
Ghate said his first thought was to disarm the man. “I caught hold of his hand and twisted it so that he dropped the knife. But he got aggressive and started to hit me,” he said.
Sabale, however, was successful in overpowering the accused. “We then alerted the control room and handed him over to the Bhoiwada police,” he said.
The police said Chavan, who works as a labourer, acted in a fit of rage. “He is a short-tempered person. He got upset when he was stopped from breaking the queue. After the arrest, Chavan told us that he decided to attack the boy as the brothers had allegedly abused him,” said Vikram Patil, senior inspector, Bhoiwada police station.
He added that Chavan stabbed Khamkar once in the chest with the knife that he got from a coconut vendor. The victim was taken to KEM hospital, where the doctors declared him dead.
“We are checking whether Chavan has any previous criminal record,” said Patil.
The police also took the statements of eyewitnesses. “We recorded their statements after the movie ended,” said Patil.
According to the police, Khamkar was from Wai in Satara district and was staying near NM Joshi Marg police station. He worked with a private firm at Fort and his parents are farmers in Satara district.