THREE MORE persons were arrested in connection to the murder of a Ghatkopar-based diamond merchant on Tuesday. With this, six persons have been arrested for the murder of Rajeshwar Udani (57), who was smothered with a cake on November 27.
The three have been identified as Nikhat Khan (19), who was allegedly going to be used as a ‘honey trap’ for Udani, her aunt Shahista (41) alias Dolly and Mahesh Bhoir (31), who allegedly helped them dispose the body. The police said the accused had tried to honey trap Udani a month ago as well.
Udani had gone missing on November 27 after he left his chauffeur driven car on the Eastern Express Highway. While his body was found on December 4, his family identified Udani on Friday. Earlier, three persons have been arrested in the case — Sachin Pawar, Dinesh Pawar and Praneet Bhoir.
A senior police officer said that in order to honey trap Udani, the accused wanted a young girl. Sachin knew Shahista and asked her to rope in a young woman. “Shahista told them about her relative Nikhat Khan. While Shahista was promised Rs 15 lakh, Nikhat was told that she will be paid Rs 5 lakh once the ploy worked,” the officer added.
On November 27, the accused told Udani that they would all visit the residence of Nikhat’s friend in Panvel for a birthday party. “This is why they had purchased a cake that was used to smother Udani,” the officer said.
Investigations have revealed that a deal of Rs 2 to Rs 3 crore between Sachin and Udani had gone sour. Sachin is believed to have wanted to shoot a video of Udani in a compromising position with a woman, which could be used to blackmail him later.
“The first attempt was made in November when they were to secretly film Udani at a house in Panvel. However, the house was occupied and they postponed it to November 27,” an officer said.
What the police are so far not clear about is what transpired in the i10 car, where Udani was killed. Sachin was allegedly not present in the car when Udani was killed. In all, besides Udani, Dinesh, Nikhat, Praneet, Mahesh and another accused, who is on the run, were present in the car. “It appears that Dinesh had an argument with Udani that eventually led to his murder,” an officer said.
While the police have the custody of Sachin till Friday, they produced Praneet and Dinesh before a local Vikhroli court on Tuesday, which remanded them in police custody till Saturday.
At the court, investigating officer Lata Sutar said that Dinesh was one of the main accused in the case and that Praneet had driven the i10 car. The police in their remand application mentioned that they were yet to recover the gold chain, gold ring and Rs 42,250 that Udani had been carrying that day.
Lawyer Samadhan Sulane, who had earlier argued on behalf of Sachin, represented Praneet on Tuesday. Claiming that Praneet was not present at the crime spot, he argued that the police had arrested him as he had received calls from some of the accused. Sulane later told mediapersons that Praneet “was just an auto driver and neither knew how to drive a four-wheeler nor had a license for the same”.
The police have alleged that Praneet not only drove the car, but also scouted for the spot at Panvel, near his residence, where Udani’s body was dumped. Praneet allegedly knew Dinesh as he supplied protein supplements to his gym.
The police suspect Udani was trying to get close to Sachin’s live-in partner. Dinesh — who was arrested in a rape case on December 7 — owned the gym that was frequented by Sachin, a BJP worker. Dinesh, who was in need of money, allegedly arranged for others who participated in the crime.