‘Sheer bad luck’: Police on murder of HDFC official who was stabbed 14 times
HDFC Bank executive Siddharth Sanghvi was an incidental target and a victim of “sheer bad luck” as the accused, a 20-year-old contract labourer, had two other people as his potential victims, a source has said.
The official, privy to the murder investigation, said Sanghvi was one of three executives Sarfaraz Shaikh had selected as possible victims. He may have gone after any one of them if the banker had not turned up in the parking lot marked for HDFC Bank employees on September 5. He refused to identify the other two.
“He (Sanghvi) just happened to be at that place when Sheikh was on the prowl for a prospective victim,” the official said.
The 39-year-old bank executive went missing on September 5 and the police found his body in Haji Malang area of Kalyan in Thane district on Monday. Following Sanghvi’s disappearance and the missing person’s complaint, more than half a dozen people, including some HDFC Bank employees as well as his family and acquaintances, were questioned by the police.
Shaikh had worked in the Kamala Mills compound as a fabricator on more than one occasion over the past three years. He was familiar with the layout, including details such as the guards’ timings and the location of CCTV cameras. The police believe he had also worked on a project in the HDFC Bank’s office.
Shaikh was not the police’s first suspect in the case and even after he confessed his role, they probed other possibilities. “It was hard to trust his [Shaikh’s] confession as we had suspected the involvement of more than one person in the murder,” the official said.
Shaikh, who lives in Kopar Khairane, was brought in for questioning more than once and was eventually arrested on September 9, when the police got all the details from him, including the location of Sanghvi’s body in Kalyan.
The official said Shaikh was questioned by three interrogators. Two of the police’s top interrogators, inspectors Sukhlal Varpe and Dinesh Kadam, were drawn from other police stations (Worli and Byculla) to assist the officers at NM Joshi Marg police station.
“This was done in order to find out discrepancies, if any, in Shaikh’s narration of the events separately before the three teams. However, Shaikh’s narration remained the same before all. Only then we were convinced that he was the solitary assassin and produced him in the court,” the official said.
The interrogations established that Shaikh had been waiting for one of his three targets to appear on the third-floor parking lot. “The parking lot was empty and deserted by then and Shaikh took advantage of the situation. It was sheer bad luck for Sanghvi to be there at that time,” said the official.
Shaikh told his interrogators that Sanghvi tried to resist and screamed when he got hold of the banker from behind and put a knife to his throat. “His neck was slit when he moved his head while putting up resistance,” said the official, adding that a panicked Shaikh went on to stab Sanghvi 14 times.
Sanghvi tried to get away as he was being stabbed leaving blood stains in the parking lot that the police found a few days after his disappearance. Police believe Sanghvi was killed between 8pm and 8.30pm, after which Shaikh waited for more than three hours because he didn’t want to run the risk of being caught in the traffic. There is a CCTV footage of Shaikh driving Sanghvi’s car out of the parking lot at around 11.20pm.
“Also he was aware that people at Haji Malang would be sleeping when he dumped the body,” the official said.
Shaikh then abandoned the car, which had the knife that he had used to kill Sanghvi, near his residence in Kopar Khairane. During his interrogation, Shaikh allegedly confessed to the crime and denied anyone else’s involvement. He told the police that he had to pay off the loan for a motorcycle he had bought.
Unaware of how the legal system works, when Shaikh was presented before the magistrate on Monday, he confessed his crime in court. “He thought he would probably be asked what he had been asked before—if anyone else was involved,” the official said.
The police have been granted the Shaikh’s custody till September 19 by the court and the investigation into Sanghvi’s death is still underway.