For his eldest sister and her in-laws, murder accused Vijay Palande, who along with his associate Dhananjaya Shinde, dumped the remains of aspiring producer Karan Kakkad at Kumbharli Ghat, was a successful entrepreneur who mended his ways after getting convicted in a double murder case in 1998.
They lost their faith in him after the police visited their home in Shirgaon, which is 12 km away from Palande’s village, Talvatpali, while investigating the murder of senior citizen Arun Tikku, in which Palande is the key accused.
“Whenever Vijay came here, he would first go to a temple near our house. He did not drink or smoke. Now we suspect it was all a cover-up,” said Ganpatrao Shinde, Palande’s brother-in-law said.
Palande had visited the Shindes along with his associate Dhananjaya after allegedly dumping Kakkad’s body in the early hours of March 8.
In April, Palande had taken Anuj Tikku to the Shindes’ home in Shirgaon while his associates, Manoj Gajkosh and Dhananjaya, killed his father in their Lokhandwala flat.
Ganpatrao, a former sarpanch from an influential land-owning family in the village, said: “We were shocked when we heard about Palande’s involvement in the murders. He was academically bright, fluent in English and had good communication skills. We all believed that he would outshine his siblings and do something big. No one saw this coming.”
Ganpatrao describes Palande as suave man who had a passion for good food.
“He is extremely choosy about food. If he did not like what was cooked in the house, he would hardly eat even a morsel.”
Palande is also a voracious reader, said Ganpatrao. “He would bring along books whenever he came here, most of which were English books,” he said.
A factor that points to his taste for the high-flying lifestyle is the family’s admission that he would befriend only “established, rich” people.
“He did not have any friends here and neither was he interested. He made friends with rich people mostly from Pune, Mumbai or Delhi,” Ganpatrao said.
“He has caused us a lot of pain. We opened our doors to him thinking that he had mended his ways. Now, he has landed us in trouble as well.”