The case gets murkier. As the police tried to piece together the sequence of movements of murder accused Vijay Palande after he escaped police custody for a little over five hours on April 10, they came upon some interesting information during their investigation – Palande spent more than 40 minutes in the office of a prominent politician from the western suburbs.
Sources from the crime branch said on Tuesday that the police are now trying to find out why Palande spent time there and how close he is to the said politician.
On April 10, around 7.45 pm, a police jeep transporting Palande and co-accused Manoj Gajkosh from Karad, Satara district, (following their arrest in connection with the murder of senior citizen Arun Tikku) slowed down on Old Nagardas Road in Andheri (east) due to traffic jam. Constable Amol Deshpande (now suspended) got down from the jeep to clear the traffic, but left the door open. Palande, who was sitting next to inspector Sanjay Shinde (also suspended), allegedly slipped out and escaped.
Following the arrest of Palande’s friend, stockbroker Gautam Vora, the police learnt that the duo had met at Marine Lines station around 9.30 pm as per Vora’s instruction to Palande over the Blackberry messenger service. Palande is said to have boarded a Churchgate train from Andheri station. Given that the train would not have taken more than 30 to 35 minutes to cover the distance between Andheri and Marine Lines, officials investigated Palande’s movements in the intervening period. “About 40 to 45 minutes were unaccounted for,” an official said. The police learnt that Palande first went to the politician’s office, which he considered a safe hideout, and contacted Vora using his cellphone.
From Marine Lines, the duo went to Colaba in Vora’s Mercedes, bought clothes and checked into a hotel. When he reportedly showed up at Churchgate after midnight, a police team caught him.