Karan Sood alias Vijay Palande, the prime accused in the murder of Arun Kumar Tikku, 67, sent the city police into a frenzy for five hours on Tuesday.
Taking advantage of the traffic, Palande escaped from the police vehicle in which he was with being brought to Mumbai. After several hours of panic, the police re-arrested him at Churchgate railway station a little after midnight.
According to the police, Palande and the victim's son, Anuj Tikku, had left for Goa on April 7. His associates Manoj Gajkosh and Dhananjaya Shinde stayed back in the city to finish off Arun.
While Shinde was arrested from near Bandra station on Tuesday morning, the crime branch caught Palande and Gajkosh near Karad after laying a trap.
A police team, comprising a sub-inspector, assistant police inspector and two constables, were bringing the two to Mumbai in a Bolero. While the accused were sitting in the rear, the two officers were in the middle seat and the two constables were in the front. According to sources, the accused weren't handcuffed.
The team reached the old Nagardas Road in Andheri (East) around 7.30 pm. "The traffic was chock-o-block and the car was barely moving," said Deven Bharati, additional commissioner of police, crime.
Taking advantage, Palande quickly opened the boot door and slipped out. He ran into the crowd and was soon lost.
"An alert was sent out and four units of the crime branch started their hunt for him," said Bharati. "A look-out notice was sent to the airport, the railway police were informed, and entry and exit points of the city were sealed. Nakabandis were carried out at across the city."
In the meantime, one of Palande's friends told the crime branch officers that the accused was at Churchgate station. Around 12.30am, a team in plainclothes found Palande and arrested him. "It was one of our worst nightmares," said an officer, who was part of the operation.
Palande has now been booked for running from police custody.