Gossip picked up from a waiter has helped police identify a woman whose body was found in December last year and zero-in on her suspected killers.
In April, constable Parshuram Kengar, during casual talk with a waiter at a ‘ladies’ bar’ — a bar with waitresses — in Vashi, learned that a waitress had disappeared.
“The waiter told Kengar that a bar girl he knew, identified as Anjali Shetty, had been missing for a few months and nobody had a clue about her. The waiter parted with one more piece of gossip: that the woman had an affair with a customer who had been a regular at Manish bar where she worked before her disappearance,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Shrikant Pathak, Navi Mumbai.
Kengar informed superiors at Navi Mumbai Crime Branch, and a team that included Kengar, was formed.
Employees of dance bars — waiters, girls employed as dancers and other staff — formed a huge informer network for the police when dance bars were operational. With the ban on dance bars, many women shifted to ‘ladies’ bars’ and police started creating an informer base in this circuit. Inquiries were made among girls working at bars in Navi Mumbai.
“Bar girls are a close-knit group and tend to know girls working in other bars. They share gossip like boyfriends, customers who prefer their company and big spenders in their respective bars. Waiters tend to talk among themselves about girls working in ladies’ bars. The police spent several days tapping this group and finally got a name: Yogesh Kale. He was the one with whom Anjali had an affair before she went missing,” said an officer.
The police began scouting bars in Navi Mumbai looking for Kale and instructed informers to alert them as soon as he was seen. Using the same informant base, police identified the driver of a private vehicle frequently seen with Kale in bars and picked him up.
“The driver told us that in December, his vehicle was hired by Kale and two of his friends. They picked up a girl from near Manish Bar and told him to drive around. The trio strangled the girl and dumped the body in a nullah in Vashi,” said Pathak. The driver was threatened not to breath a word to anyone.
Police have made him a witness. A check with Vashi police confirmed that the body of a girl had been found in a nullah on December 28 and a case of murder was registered against unknown persons, based on strangulation marks.
Police intensified their search for Kale and on April 15, were tipped off that Kale and his friends would arrive at Neelam Bar and Restaurant in Sanpada.
Posing as customers, policemen and Navi Mumbai Crime Branch personnel sat at tables pretending to be drunk. When Kale and his friends, Sachin More and Ankush Katkar, showed up, the informant signalled them, confirming they were the ones wanted. Police detained them.
Police said that during interrogation, Kale confessed to the murder and revealed he had been having an affair with Anjali. She had started demanding that he marry her, which he was unwilling to do. When her demands did not stop, he hatched a plan to kill her and took More and Katkar’s help, police said.
“The three are in judicial custody and we will soon file a chargesheet,” Pathak said.