City cops turned to subterfuge to nab an accused, Pravin Jadeja, who had been absconding for 16 years. The police got in touch with a former colleague of their target and told him that Jadeja’s insurance policy had matured and he needed to come to Mumbai to claim it.
Jadeja, who was arrested in 2007 for attempting to siphon off Rs 40,000 from his employer, believed his friend, returned to the city and was promptly arrested.
The accused’s employer, A H Gangar, a Hindmata-based cloth merchant, had entrusted Jadeja, then a 24-year-old salesman, to collect outstanding amounts from certain shopkeepers in Dadar. Jadeja collected Rs 40,000, but, after returning, he told his boss that when he had gone to take a leak, somebody stole the bag containing the cash.
The Rafi Ahmed Kidwai (RAK) Marg cops, who took up the investigation, found that Jadeja was lying and arrested him after booking him under Section 408 (criminal breach of trust by servant) of the Indian Penal Code. However, after securing bail, Jadeja stopped attending court hearings and vanished from Mumbai.
When the cops tried to look up his address, they learnt that nothing had been taken on record. The Dadar court then pronounced him an absconder and issued a non-bailable warrant against him. Recently, Dr Pravin Mundhe, DCP (Zone 4), directed all police stations to nab such absconders. Senior Inspector Kumud Kadam of the RAK Marg police station instructed Assistant Inspector Mahesh Lamkhade to track Jadeja. Constables Narayan Kadam, Suresh Kadlag, Ravindra Sable, Vidya Yadav and Sushant Bankar were part of his team. The cops began inquiring around Hindmata where Jadeja used to work.
“While questioning salesmen at Hindmata, we obtained vital information: Jadeja hailed from Kutch district in Gujarat and has a pair of gold teeth,” said API Lamkhade.
“But tracking down one person in a district is like searching for a needle in a haystack. So we thought about devising a different strategy,” he added.
Cops kept talking to Jadeja’s former colleagues at the shop and got a phone number that Jadeja was apparently using. An officer dialled the number, but the person who picked up claimed he was not Pravin Jadeja but Pradipsingh and hung up.
“He was clever and didn’t talk to strangers over the phone. So we decided to lure him with a policy maturity amount and asked him to come to Mumbai to sign documents and collect the same. On February 1, a message was sent to one of his friends mentioning his name and a vague address. It stated that he had to claim R25,000. We included the number of a cop who posed as an insurance agent. We also changed his profile picture to that of the company and kept on uploading various policy plans as his status images,” said Lamkhade.
Jadeja, who was forwarded the message, checked the status of the cop’s profile for a couple of days. Convinced that he was a genuine agent, he finally called him and asked who had insured him. “The constable replied that his former employer had done so. Jadeja then came to Mumbai and we nabbed him on Thursday,” said API Lamkhade.
During his interrogation, Jadeja initially insisted that he was a person named Pradeep Singh. But when he was shown court records which mentioned his gold teeth, he gave up the ruse.
Jadeja had been working as a vegetable vendor in the village of Shabhrai in Kutch district.