The seemingly innocuous act of ‘staring’ escalated into a blazing row and ended with the murder of four young men in Malad over the weekend.
The bodies of Ganesh Karanje, 24, Dinesh Ahire, 25, Chetan Dhule, 24, and Bharat Pundle, 27, were discovered with their clothes missing and their throats slit on a hillock in Kurar village in Malad (East) on Monday afternoon.
The four had disappeared on Saturday night and their families allege that despite alerting the police about it that day itself, a case of kidnapping was registered only on Monday, a few hours before the bodies were found. Angry family and friends of the four men then took to the streets, bringing traffic on the Western Express Highway to a halt on Monday evening.
The riot control police had to be called in to control the situation. Additional commissioner (North Region) of police Ramrao Pawar said, “We have identified three accused who will be arrested soon. We suspect seven to eight persons to be involved in this.”
According to the police who pieced together events after speaking to family and friends of the four men, Bharat, who works as a water purifier repairer, along with one Sachin Dhuri, had gone to the clinic of a Dindoshi doctor to collect payment for purifier he had installed. Sachin was standing outside where the suspected killers were allegedly consuming alcohol.
When they warned Sachin against staring at them an argument ensued, during which the accused threw a glass at Sachin injuring him. Bharat and Sachin returned to their locality, gathered a few friends and went back and beat up the men who had thrown the glass.
Swearing revenge, the accused hatched a plan. Posing as customers, they first called up Bharat’s friend Chetan, a banjo player, and told him they had a banjo-playing assignment for him. They abducted the unsuspecting Chetan when he met them near SK Patil Hospital.
They then tried to lure Sachin telling him to pick up a drunk Bharat, but he became suspicious and refused to do so. They then used the same trick on Ganesh, Dinesh and Bharat and abducted them on Saturday night, police said.
When the four did not return, their families and friends approached the Kurar police who, allegedly, did not take them seriously. Rihan Shaikh, a friend, said, “We came to the police station on Saturday night but they just took a non-cognisable complaint.”
The police registered a case of kidnapping on Monday. After the bodies were found, they registered a case of murder.