The Byculla police have arrested a 54-year-old security guard working for the Jijamata Udyan – better known as Rani Baug – for allegedly stealing some imitation jewellery from a statue of Shivaji located in the civic zoo premises. He broke off a small part of the statue that had the ornaments attached to it.
Police said while the stolen article is not of great monetary value, the case had to be solved promptly as it involved a statue of the iconic Maratha leader. The accused had stolen the article and flung it into a pond inside the premises. Investigators said the accused committed the crime to get back at a woman who is also a guard at the zoo, over a past disagreement.
The arrested accused has been identified as Maruti Rangrao Kate, a resident of Ghodbunder, Thane. Kate had been working in the zoo for the past 29 years.
Complainant Pradip Raut, who is divisional security officer, zone-2, BMC, said in his statement to the police that the director of Rani Baug, Anil Anjankar, had received an anonymous call on Friday night, and was informed about the theft.
Anjankar went to the garden and inspected the statue, to discover that a portion of the statue’s head gear, which had some jewellery attached to it, was missing.
Surekha Kunde, the guard posted near the statue at the time of the theft, told Raut and other security officers that around 9.30pm on Friday, she had gone to answer nature’s call. When she came back to her post around 9.45pm, part of the statue was missing.
By the time she informed her superiors, Anjankar had already arrived. The police analysed details of the anonymous caller’s number, and traced the caller, who turned out to be Kate. They caught Kate in Thane on Saturday.
“Kate confessed to the crime and took the investigators to a pond in the Japan Garden in the zoo, where he had thrown the stolen piece,” said an officer. “Had the accused not been arrested and the jewellery not been recovered, there could have been major trouble.”
The officer said Kate and Kunde had been involved in a heated argument during the flower exhibition held in the premises recently. Since Kunde was posted near the statue, she would definitely have been terminated after the theft. This is what prompted Kate to commit the theft, a police source said.