The Crime Branch of Pune City Police on Friday arrested Sushil Mancharkar (50), the former President of Pimpri Chinchwad Bar Association, and two others for allegedly planning a conspiracy to murder former Congress corporator Kailas Kadam. Mancharkar also arranged the escape of three undertrials on April 10 this year, while they were being brought back to Pune from Satara district after a court appearance, said police.
According to police, the lawyer offered the trio Rs 30 lakh for killing Kadam, with whom Mancharkar had had a dispute during a civic body meeting in 2015. Along with Mancharkar, the Crime Branch also arrested Suresh Swaminathan Zende (29), a resident of Dattaraj Colony, Thergaon, and Raju alias Kalya Mahadev Patre (32), a resident of Datta Nagar in Ambegaon. An offence in this case was lodged at the Pimpri police station under sections 224 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
Mancharkar, Zende and Patre were produced before a court in Pimpri, which remanded the trio to police custody till September 19.
On April 10, Raju Mahadev Patre alias Kalya, Santosh Macchindra Jagtap and Santosh Chandilkar alias Lubhya — who were lodged in Yerwada Central Prison in connection with various criminal cases — were taken to Khandala court, in Satara, in a police van .
After the hearing, the police team left for Pune in the same van at 5.30 pm. When the van reached Katraj Ghat at 7.30 pm, the three accused said they had to “answer nature’s call”, and the policemen escorted them outside. Suddenly, the three men pushed the policemen, taking them by surprise, and ran away to the nearby forest area. The five police guards on duty were suspended in connection with the case.
Acting on a tip-off, a Crime Branch team led by Inspector Rajendra Todkar nabbed Patre from his residence in Chinchwad area on Thursday. During questioning, he said that Zende helped him escape from police custody, and the latter was subsequently arrested.
Police said the duo revealed Mancharkar’s role in arranging the escape of the undertrials, and the lawyer was arrested from his residence in Nehru Nagar, Pimpri, on Friday.
This is not the first time Mancharkar has been arrested, said police. He had been arrested in 2015, in connection with an attempt to murder case registered at the Pimpri police station. He was lodged in Yerwada jail, where he came in contact with the three undertrials, said police. Mancharkar was later released on bail. Following a political rivalry with Kadam, Mancharkar allegedly offered Rs 30 lakh to Patre, Jagtap and Chandilkar, to kill the former corporator.
He also offered firearms and logistical help to the three men, whom he used to meet during court appearances, said police.
As Mancharkar was finding it difficult to get the trio out on bail, he allegedly planned their escape and later gave them Rs 5 lakh in advance, along with firearm. Police are now looking for Chandilkar, Jagtap and another suspect, Dharma Kamble, in connection with the case.
However, Mancharkar’s wife Geeta, a corporator in the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, claimed that her husband was innocent. “It is an absolutely false case… Kailas Kadam is behind it. This is because two years ago, I had filed a case against Kadam and his brother for beating me up. Also, my husband had supported the family of RTI activist Suhas Haldankar from Kharalwadi, who was brutally murdered by 13 persons, including the brother of Kailas Kadam. All of them were arrested after my husband took up the issue. We had even carried out a candle march in Kharalwadi… they had been nursing a grudge against my husband, which led to the filing of this false case,” said Geeta.