A Maharashtra doctor, arrested on the charge of kidnapping and killing an ‘aanganwadi’ worker, has confessed to murdering at least six persons by administering lethal overdoses of medicines, police said in Satara on Monday. Satara’s Wai Police Station Inspector Padmakar Ghanvat said accused Santosh Pol, who was arrested last Saturday and who is now being called ‘Dr Death’, has revealed that he has killed five women and one man so far.
Wai is a small picturesque town at the base of the Mahableshwar-Panchgani twin hill stations, famous for many Bollywood film shootings. Pol’s alleged crimes came to light after police began to investigate the suspicious disappearance of 49-year-old Mangal Jedhe, President of the Maharashtra Purva Prathmik Shikshika Sevika Sangh (MPPSSS).
“She had left Wai for Pune to attend to her daughter’s delivery, but never reached there,” said MPPSSS general secretary Shaukat Pathan. Police said that investigations revealed that prior to leaving for Pune, she was in touch with Pol and both had a bitter fight when she threatened to reveal his (Pol’s) alleged shady and criminal activities.
Pol and his associates, including nurse Jyoti Mandre, allegedly kidnapped Jedhe as she waited at the Wai bus depot and took her to Pol’s farmhouse around 13 km from Wai. The following day, Pol and Mandre allegedly administered her an overdose of a lethal medicine and killed her.
They buried the body at an isolated spot in the farmhouse, after which both Pol and Mandre went underground. After Jedhe’s sudden disappearance, the MPPSSS demanded an investigation by the state CID, following which police traced Mandre who is said to have spilled the beans on Pol’s whereabouts.
Police tracked down Pol to a place in Dadar in central Mumbai and arrested him on August 13. He was remanded in police custody for a week while Mandre was sent to four-day police custody. Pol allegedly admitted to killing Jedhe and burying her at his farmhouse, after which police recovered the victim’s remains.
Police said Pol claimed he was in a relationship with Jedhe and Mandre, but since Jedhe was jealous of his affair with Mandre and threatened to expose them (Pol and Mandre), they decided to eliminate her. It was in police custody that Pol allegedly confessed that he had actually killed at least five women and one man in the past few years.
He told his interrogators that five women were buried at his country home, while one male victim’s body had been thrown into a local water reservoir. All the victims were declared ‘missing’ by local authorities. Ghanvat said police was making efforts to recover the other four bodies from Pol’s farmhouse.
Besides Jedhe, the missing victims were tentatively identified as Salma Shaikh, Jagabai Pol, Surekha Chikane, Vanita Gaikwad and Nathmal Bhandare, but police say the exact details will be known only after investigation. Pathan said that since 2003, at least a dozen women have been reported missing from Wai and surrounding villages and demanded a police probe into all those cases.
Police said Pol’s crimes were driven by lust and robbery. He used his medical knowledge to eliminate his victims when they threatened to expose him.