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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Cops bank on CCTV footage to nail accused

CCTV footage stills from various spots in the city and Navi Mumbai form a separate annexure of the chargesheet

Written by Srinath Rao | Mumbai | Published: October 22, 2013 1:04:15 am

When Himanshu Ranka,29,and Vijesh Sanghvi,28,executed their hastily laid plan to kidnap 13-year-old Aditya Ranka on May 13,they did not take into account that nearly every movement that Sanghvi made with the teenager in tow,would be captured on Closed-Circuit Television Cameras (CCTVs).

Even as the city awaits a full-fledged CCTV network,the 300-page chargesheet by Mumbai Police — unique for its pictorial narrative — underscores the importance of camera surveillance as crucial detection evidence that could ensure convictions.

Videographic evidence obtained from CCTVs mounted near Aditya’s apartment building in Khetwadi in Girgaum,a Vodafone store in Sion,toll plazas in Kharpada in Panvel and in Vashi,besides pictures of the car used in the kidnapping and of spots on the outskirts of Panvel where Vijesh allegedly first burnt Aditya alive and later dumped his charred body,form a crucial part of the chargesheet filed in August.

The pictures in themselves form a separate annexure of the chargeheet filed by inspector (crime) Shrikant Desai of the V P Road police station. “We wanted to prove beyond doubt that they had committed the crime. The pictures show that we have all the proof to back it up,” he said.

“We have tried to build the strongest case possible so that neither man is let off the hook with a light sentence. We want death penalty for what they have done to the boy,” Desai added.

Additional Commissioner of Police (South Region) Krishna Prakash said the police had not come across many cases where images were used on such a scale in a chargesheet. “It will help us prove the circumstantial evidence and connect the stages of the prosecution. I know of a case in Sangli where a similar amount of pictures helped get a conviction,” Prakash said.

Both accused were arrested close to midnight on May 13 and allegedly confessed to have kidnapped Aditya to try and erase their debts. The next day,Vijesh led the police to Pali village,off the Mumbai-Pune Expressway where he had allegedly burnt Aditya and to the spot near the Expressway where he dumped the body. The chargesheet also states that before killing Aditya,Vijesh stopped twice to buy him food and ensure that he didn’t go hungry.

The first image in the 67-page collection of pictures is of the precise moment on May 13 at 12:27:13 pm,when Aditya stepped out of his apartment building to answer what would eventually turn out to be a hoax call. The image was taken by one of the apartment cameras. The picture book then gives a narrative of the spots that the white Honda city passed. The last image is of the car at the Vashi toll naka,at 20:45:39 pm on their way back from the crime scene.

According to the chargesheet,both Himanshu,Aditya’s first cousin employed at a steelworks shop in Girgaum,and his close friend Vijesh,who owned a steel shop and traded in the metal futures market,were neck-deep in debt. They had collectively lost nearly Rs 20 lakh in bets placed during the sixth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL),the police claimed. The amount was corroborated through statements of three bookies. “The actual amount is closer to Rs 40 lakh,but other bookies have not come forward,” said Desai.

Having spent the best part of the summer assuring bookies that they would get their money back,they jumped at the opportunity when on May 10,Himanshu’s father Nemichand casually mentioned to him that Aditya’s father Jitendra,a diamond broker,had the same day collected Rs 30 lakh for safekeeping.

According to the plot they hatched,Jitendra would easily submit to their ransom call,pay them the money and have his boy returned. “Being businessmen,they expected Jitendra to settle the matter quietly and not approach the police at all,” Desai said.

After luring Aditya out of his home,Vijesh drove him to Sion the car that he had borrowed from Himanshu’s employer Shailesh Bokadia. The car was never returned to the owner. They first stopped at the Vodafone gallery on Sion Link Road. The 30-minute footage there shows Vijesh purchasing a Nano SIM card while Aditya wandered about,while Vijesh stepped out three times,once to make the ransom call and twice to confer with Himanshu.

Senior inspector Rajendra Chavan said they had gone all out to nail Himanshu and Vijesh. “We tried to collect all possible evidence and can submit any evidence that comes up after the charge-sheet is filed,” he said.

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