When a bakery product supplier was run over by a dumper in 2014, the police were initially inclined to believe that it was a hit-and-run case. Five years later, the police, who made arrests March, referred to the incident as a “perfectly planned murder”. However, they said the “mastermind”, Vakil Shaikh, who allegedly orchestrated the killing over a business rivalry, is still on the run.
The victim, Ikhlakh Khan, was run over near Wadala link road at around 9.30 pm on January 14, 2014.
Police said a breakthrough in the case was made because the driver of the dumper was not paid the amount he was promised to carry out the murder — Rs 40,000. Shaikh had allegedly offered a contractor, Saijjuddin Qureshi, Rs 4 lakh to kill Khan. As the intermediary, Qureshi introduced Shaikh to the dumper driver Amol Pasoba.
Shaikh called Khan a day before the incident. They met in a hotel in Kurla where Pasoba was also present. “Khan would sell products in his bicycle. So Shaikh even showed him the route he (Khan) used,” said Inspector Sanjay Nikumbe from Crime Branch Unit 3.
After Pasoba carried out the murder, the investigating team from Wadala Truck Terminal Police had registered a case of rash and negligent driving and subsequently filed a summary report in December 2016. However, new life was breathed into the case in 2019 when Pasoba, disheartened by the fact that he had only been paid Rs 10,000 instead of the promised Rs 40,000, spilt the beans about the plan to a friend. His friend, who turned out to be a police informant, approached the officers of Crime Branch Unit 3 with the information.
The police got hold of Pasoba, who was then working for a private firm in Mankhurd. He allegedly confessed to the crime and said he did so under the behest of Qureshi.
During interrogation, police said it was revealed that Shaikh owed Khan Rs 1.5 lakh, in addition to being in the same line of business as him. In 2014, Khan’s friend was arrested, so he went to Shaikh for help. Khan handed him the money and asked Shaikh to hire an advocate and get his friend bailed out. Instead, Shaikh conned them and refused to pay them back, said police.
“As he was being pressured to return the money, while the rivalry was also an issue, Shaikh decided to kill Khan. We initially visited his residence in Sion. He stayed alone then, but we have learnt that he went back to his native place at Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh last year,” said Nikumbe.
Police said Shaikh was in hiding, and that they have been paying routine visits to his residence in Sion to check whether nearby residents had any fresh inputs. Investigators also said he had switched off his mobile phone.
“We have also set up informants in UP so that we will know whenever he is back in his native place. We have learnt that his wife is contesting a gram panchayat election, so people in Kannauj are familiar with the family,” said a police officer.