A dispute over a matchbox led to the murder of Ravindra Bali, a former Army officer, on Koyaji Road earlier this month, Pune City Police said on Monday. Police have arrested 21-year-old Robin Anthony Lazarus for allegedly bludgeoning Bali to death in the late hours of February 1.
Bali, a former officer of the Corps of Electronic and Mechanical Engineers (EME) of the Army, was homeless. He had been living inside a tent on a footpath on Koyaji Road for the last five years. He was brutally murdered outside the main gate of the Southern Command Officers’ Mess in Pune camp.
An officer of Captain rank, Bali was dismissed from service after a court martial in 1989. During the investigation, footage from one of the CCTV cameras showed a man running away from the spot towards Mangal Vihar and M G Road. The man was identified as Lazarus, a resident of Tarapore Road who had gone missing since the murder, said police. Crime Branch Inspector Sitaram More received information that Lazarus was in Taloja, in Raigad district, where he was working at a roadside eatery. He was subsequently detained and during questioning, he admitted to the murder, said police.
“On the night of the incident, Lazarus and some of his friends were returning home after consuming alcohol. His motorcycle stopped working near Mammadevi Chowk. While he and his friends were pushing their bike, on the way home, they wanted to smoke a cigarette. They asked Bali, who was sleeping inside his tent on the footpath, for a matchbox. But Bali didn’t give him a matchbox and he and Lazarus had a fight. During the fight, Lazarus bludgeoned Bali with a box of cement,” said a police officer.
To hide from police, Lazarus changed his hairstyle and started working at an eatery in Taloja, added the officer.
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