Nearly a month after she was found dead in her home at Four Bungalows, the police Monday arrested two men for allegedly killing actor Kritika Chaudhary, reportedly over a dispute over Rs 6,000 she owed them. The accused, Shakeel Naseem Khan (33) and Badshah alias Basudas Makamlal Das (40), were arrested in Panvel. Paramjit Singh Dahiya, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone IX, said that all motives for the murder, including robbery, were being investigated.
Chaudhary (27) was found dead in her home in Bhairavnath building in Four Bungalows on June 12, having been killed at least two days earlier. While searching through her house, the police found her gold jewellery missing, and also recovered a pair of brass knuckles allegedly used to kill her. During the investigation, the police scanned all of Chaudhary cellphone contacts — more than 2000 of them.
“We made inquiries with more than 500 people,” said Dahiya. The police were initially sidetracked by a blood soaked shirt they found in Chaudhary’s home as they could not trace its origins. “The brand name on the shirt is not an Indian one. We inquired with all major retailers but could not find any clue to it. So we wondered if some foreigner was involved,” said an officer, a part of the investigation. The police narrowed down their probe to Khan, who had been arrested by the Anti Narcotics Cell of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch after he was allegedly seen in CCTV footage exiting Chaudhary’s building with another man.
“After a witness helped us identify the men in the CCTV footage, we began to look for them,” said the officer. He added that Khan, who lived in Nallasopara, and Das, who lived in Govandi, had moved to a house in Malwani’s Gate 8 after they came to know that the police were looking for them. Last week, after the police began to make inquiries in Malwani, the duo fled to Panvel, where they were nabbed around 9 am, Dahiya said.
The police added that the duo knew each other from the time they worked for a scrap dealer in Mahim a few years ago. Since then, Khan had been delivering mephedrone for a Mumbai-based drug peddler, while also going in and out of prison, the police said. “A couple of years ago, he was arrested in Juhu for stealing a car. Last year in August, he was arrested for peddling mephedrone and was released from jail in November,” the officer said. According to the police, Chaudhary owed Khan Rs 6,000 but had allegedly been stalling the payment.
“After his release from jail, Khan’s cellphone was not returned to him, so he did not have Chaudhary’s phone number. So he would visit her house to ask for the money. But each time, she would ask him to come back later,” said the officer. On June 12, Khan allegedly asked Das to accompany him, telling him that he could also make some money, the police said. “Khan, a fitness enthusiast, was carrying a bag containing a change of clothes and a pair of brass knuckles.
When Chaudhary again tried to delay making the payment, Khan hit her thrice on the head with the brass knuckles. Then he changed out of his blood-stained shirt, put on a fresh shirt, switched on the air conditioner and left with Das,” said the officer. Dahiya added that a detailed interrogation of the accused would be conducted. The two men were remanded in police custody until July 17 by a court on Monday. However, Chaudhary’s brother Deepak said that he was unsure of the police’s claims of his sister owing Khan money. “After we arrived in Mumbai to claim her body, the police handed over Rs 22,000 in cash belonging to Kritika found in her home. However, we want the death penalty for the men if they are guilty,” he said.