Four shopkeepers confirmed that murder accused Vijay Palande had visited Shirgaon village close to Chiplun early in March this year.
The Mumbai police crime branch recently recorded the statements of the owners of the shops in front of which Palande had parked the BMW belonging to small-time producer Karan Kumar Kakkad.
Palande’s sister Surekha Shinde lives in the village, the police said.
Rajan Shinde, a 50-year-old grocery store owner, whose shop is located next to Shinde’s residence, told the police that Palande had visited the village with two other men.
“He [Palande] was here on March 7 for Holi. Two others accompanied him. I have never seen them before. He was in a BMW which he parked right outside my shop,” Shinde told Hindustan Times on Thursday.
Sources in the crime branch said they suspected that Palande had visited the village with his accomplices after throwing Kakkad’s body into the Kumbharli Ghat, which is about 40km away from the village.
Crime branch officials have also recorded Surekha’s statement. She reportedly told the police that it was Simran Sood, Palande’s wife, was responsible for the change in his lifestyle and temperament. She said Sood had pushed him into the life of crime.
With Palande emerging as the central figure in two recent murder plots, sources said the police was not taking any chances during the investigation as they wanted to present a watertight case against him.
“Any evidence that we get in the Kakkad and Arun Tikku murder cases are being corroborated by recording statements of witnesses. It is of vital importance in putting the pieces together and creating a strong case,” said a crime branch officer.
Kakkad was living at Oberoi Springs in Lokhandwala, Andheri, when he met Sood. She then introduced Kakkad to Palande claiming that the latter was her brother, Karan Sood.
On March 5, Kakkad went missing. It was learnt that Palande and his two accomplices had murdered him.