Pathak had literally gone 'out of his way' to establish a rock solid alibi. He trumped up charges against himself, and even paid a fine, for the explicit purpose of misleading the police. "In order to prove that he was innocent, he arrived at the Kurar police station with a girl, minutes before the murders were committed.
The girl registered a non-cognisable offence against Pathak, complaining that he had molested her. The police officers-in-charge asked Pathak to pay a fine of Rs 1,200, and thereafter released him," said Dhanaji Nalavade, senior police inspector at Kurar police station.
The savaged bodies of the four young murder victims had been found at Kurar in Malad (East), on Monday morning.
The victims, all in their twenties, had gone missing since Saturday night, after being embroiled in a heated altercation with a local gang, which had ended in a scuffle. The victims were identified as Chetan Dhule (24) and Dinesh Ihire (26), Ganesh Karanje (24), and Bharat Kudle (27).
They had been found prostrate, their throats slit and their naked bodies partially charred, in the heart of a jungle behind Kurar village.
This is not the only cover up Pathak used to escape arrest. Pathak took other measures to erase all traces of his guilt. "Pathak, along with his associates, kidnapped the four youths in a green Tavera jeep which belonged to his cousin Abdul. He then moved them to the foot of the hill. While ascending the hill, however, Pathak was careful enough to leave the vehicle behind, making his victims climb by foot. This was done to ensure that the jeep did not leave behind tyre tracks in the moist soil," said an officer.
"While Pathak's associates escorted the victims up the hill, he rushed to the police station to submit himself to custody. As soon as he paid the fine, however, Pathak returned to the spot," added the officer. "He killed the four friends in cold blood, after his associates had completed their designated task of brutalising the victims," the officer said.
Officers have contended that Pathak committed the murders in order to strengthen his reign of terror in the locality. "Pathak enjoyed terrorising and intimidating the residents of the area. His pride was injured when he was roughed up by the youths. The primary motive was revenge. But he also wanted to intimidate the locals so as to ensure that he could continue extorting them," said Jaywant Hergude, assistant commissioner of police (crime branch).
Sachin, a friend to the victims, had also been called by the accused to the foothill. "When I reached the spot at 12 am, I saw four of my friends in the jeep.
Their hands had been twisted behind their backs and tied up. When the goons saw me, they rushed in my direction to apprehend me. But I was quick. When they grabbed my collar, I somehow dodged them and ran for dear life. I did not stop running till I reached Kurar police station, where I reported the incidents," said Sachin.
Sachin has also levelled some strong accusations against the police for negligence. He said, "The officers refused to accompany me to the spot, rubbishing my story.
They waved me off, saying that my friends must have fought within themselves," said Sachin, who had been present with Kudle at Shivaji Nagar when the fight broke out between his friend and Pathak's gang.
Sachin added, "I even described the vehicle to the officers, but they refused to take my complaint seriously. If the police had taken prompt action, my friends would have been alive today."
"I am investigating the allegations. If I find that the officers are guilty of negligence, then action will definitely be taken. We have transferred the Senior Police Inspector Mohan Sankhe, as many complaints had been lodged against him in the past as well," said ACP Maruti Rathod, Malad (East).
The crime branch has detained three of Pathak's associates, who were accomplices in the crime. Two teams have been dispatched to Jaunpur and Gujarat to trace Pathak and his other associates. "The three detained individuals are the prime suspects in the case," said a crime branch officer.
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