Mumbai: After over three decades of being on the run, Dharavi police have finally arrested a man wanted in a 1979 robbery case.
The accused, Krishna Raghunath Vaidi, now 59-years-old, had fled the city in 1980. He had been living in Gujarat since the court had declared him wanted in the case.
Constable Prakash Shirke attached to Dharavi police station had seen Vaidi's photograph last year, when he arrested co-accused and fellow gang members Mohammad Siddiqui and Mohammad Salim. The accused confessed to the crime and gave the cops a photograph of Vaidi clicked before he fled the city.
"Shirke's sharp memory helped us locate the accused in the crowded Mahim slums, where he had been hiding under a false name," confirmed Ashok Survegandh, senior police inspector of Dharavi police station.
On Wednesday afternoon, Dharavi police received a tip-off that Vaidi had returned to his relatives place in Mahim four days ago. Based on this information, a team from Dharavi police station was dispatched. With Shirke's help, the officials managed to identify Vaidi, who was traced to the dense slum pockets. Cops said that in 1980, he was 27 years old.
"During interrogation, Vaidi confessed that he had shifted to Gujarat where had survived on a fishing business," Survegandh added.
Vaidi was produced before the Sessions Court, which remanded him in judicial custody till April 11.
In 1979, a gang of nine people was famous for committing robberies in Zaveri Bazaar, Pydhonie and Dharavi area. At one fell swoop, the thieves had looted 150 diamonds worth Rs. 28,000 from a diamond merchant in broad daylight in Dharavi.
The merchant lodged a complaint with the police. All nine were nabbed in 1980, only to be later released on bail. Of these two eventually died, two were acquitted, two were arrested last year, and three were absconding. In 1980, Vaidi had been declared wanted by the court, which issued summons against him.
After Wednesday's arrest, it is one more down for the Dharavi police.
Though cops have been upbeat about the hard-won success, they are still puzzling over how to obtain Vaidi's conviction. Investigating officer of the case Madhukar Zhende, who shot to fame for the encounter of Charles Shobraj, is now retired. But the officers are trying to locate Zhende so that they can enlist his help to pursue the matter.
They are also finding it difficult to locate the case papers. Since the case was closed, all the records at the police station were disposed of in the past.
"We are relying only on court records now. We had the same difficulties in pursuing the case of two accused arrested last year. Finally, we had to hand them over to the court," the officer added.