Mumbai: Mumbai lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha's killer Sajjad Mughal, who had jumped parole last year, was arrested on Tuesday near Srinagar. On his trail for over a year, a Mumbai police team that staked out in Kashmir sported beards and firans to blend in.
- Pallavi was brutally assaulted and murdered by Sajjad Mughal in 2012
- Sajjad Mughal left jail last year to visit unwell mother, never returned
- After his escape, Maharashtra decided rapists, murderers won't get parole
Sajjad Mughal was sentenced to life in jail in 2014 for the killing of 25-year-old Pallavi in her 16th floor apartment in central Mumbai.
Last year, he left a jail in Nasik on parole, ostensibly to visit his unwell mother. He never returned.
The police first suspected he had slipped across the border into Pakistan. Nevertheless, a special team was formed to travel to his hometown in Kashmir.
The team had to start from scratch to look for Mughal, while the situation in Jammu and Kashmir kept them on their toes. They had to be careful that their cover wasn't blown.
The man who led the investigation team was inspector Sanjay Nikam. "Developing local sources was a challenge and keeping our cover also was a challenge. The social situation would get tense very often and handling that and staying safe was also a challenge," said Mr Nikam, who lost weight and spoke with an Urdu accent for the job.
"We had changed our look from the first day. We went there four times and were successful only on the fourth trip. When we caught him, he froze because it was not a place where he imagined anyone could catch him. He said 'I knew the crime Branch would catch me'."
Mughal was caught around 50 km from Srinagar, where he was working in a tunnel project.
Pallavi, the daughter of a Delhi-based IAS officer, was alone at home and sleeping on August 9, 2012, when Mughal, a watchman in her building, sneaked in using a stolen key. He had repeatedly switched off power supply to the flat earlier and had stolen the keys when she called for help.
Mughal tried to rape her and when she fought back, he stabbed her repeatedly before slitting her throat. The champion swimmer was found lying in her blood by her live-in partner Avik Sengupta, who later died of a brain disorder.
Mughal was arrested the next day from the railway station.
The Mumbai police had described the crime as "perversion of the highest order"; Pallavi's family had called for the death sentence.
Which is why, questions were raised by Pallavi's family as well as activists when he was granted parole.
Mughal was last spotted on June 17 at his village Salamabad in Kashmir's Uri district.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sanjay Saxena told reporters, "We worked on this case for a year. We went there and developed local contacts. On the basis of that this operation achieved success."