A 13-year-old was among two persons caught by the police on Friday for allegedly murdering a man in Kurla last Monday.
The police said the juvenile and his 19-year-old accomplice, who has been arrested, had approached the deceased, Ramashankar Yadav (22), around 4.30 am on March 18 while he was walking towards the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus to purchase a train ticket to return to his native village in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh.
Yadav had left home, which was 500 m away, minutes earlier and was heading to the station when the accused, who were on a bike, spotted him carrying a packet. Assuming that it contained cash, they told Yadav that a police operation was underway ahead and that he should not proceed, said the police.
“But the deceased did not believe them and told the accused that he could take care of himself,” said Dilip Sawant, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime).
As Yadav ignored them, 19-year-old Mohammad Sadiq Shaikh tried to pull the packet out of his hands. When he resisted, Shaikh allegedly slashed Yadav on the face and hands with a knife and stabbed him in the stomach. The duo then fled with the packet, Sawant said.
He added that Yadav lay bleeding on the deserted road. It was several minutes later that passersby stopped to assist him and alerted the police. By the time he was rushed to Rajawadi Hospital, Yadav had died. A case of murder was registered at V B Nagar police station.
“Initially, the police were clueless why anyone would kill Yadav, a farmer who had only arrived in Mumbai a month earlier to visit his ill mother and brother. He was to catch a train back home in March 19… he wanted to visit an uncle and was thus on way to book a ticket. The packet that the killers made away contained sweets for Yadav’s uncle,” said the DCP.
After eliminating the possibility that the murder was planned, the police probed the theft angle. “We tapped into our sources and looked at men living in Govandi who roam around the city early morning snatch phones from pedestrians,” said an officer at Unit 5 of the crime branch.
The investigation lead the police to the spot where juvenile and Shaikh live. The police said that on March 18, the juvenile had borrowed the bike from a friend. He and Shaikh then went on to snatch a phone in Bandra Kurla Complex and were looking for their next victim when they chanced upon Yadav.
The juvenile has three previous cases lodged against him. The first was lodged in 2014, when he eight years old, said police. “The boy has 13 siblings. The family is very poor and most of the children have taken to crime,” said Deepak Pagare, Senior Inspector of Shivaji Nagar police.
In 2014, the boy and his brother had attacked a local resident. Soon after, the boy was booked in another case of assault along with his mother and several siblings, said Pagare. In December last year, the police said, the juvenile and Shaikh had attacked a watchman, who had stopped them from committing a theft. Both were booked for attempted murder but never caught. “The boy was sent to the children’s home for the first two offences and released after a few months,” said Pagare.