MORE THAN two months after an Air India employee went missing from Andheri, his body was found in a dam in Gujarat, along with an iron rod in a gunny bag. The Mumbai Police crime branch has detained three persons in connection with the murder, which is believed to have been committed over a monetary issue.
The body of Deepak Panchal (58), who was unmarried, was handed over to his elder brother Suresh and nephew Vishal. The Morbi police in Gujarat identified the body based on a parking ticket found in Panchal’s pocket and later alerted the Mumbai Police.
SP (Morbi) Karanraj Waghela said, “Some locals complained to us that a body in a gunny bag was floating in the Brahmani dam in the last week of November. A team reached the spot and pulled out the bag. There were clothes on top of the body, along with an iron rod below.”
Waghela added that they found an airport parking ticket that had the PNR number of a flight. The ticket had been booked via Riya Tours and Travels in Delhi. Following this, the police approached the office of the travel company and found that they had done the booking for one Deepak Panchal from Andheri. On checking with the Andheri police, it came to light that there was a kidnapping case registered a month after Panchal went missing on September 29.
The Andheri police team was informed about the body being found, following which, a team accompanied by Suresh and Vishal reached Morbi. They confirmed the body to be that of Deepak based on his watch and spectacles. The body was then sent to the Rajkot medical college. The Mumbai Police then converted the FIR into a murder case.
“Based on a tip off and technical intelligence, we picked up three persons who we believe are behind the murder. We have detained them currently and are likely to arrest them soon,” said a senior officer from Mumbai Police.
The officer said Panchal had last visited his brother in Andheri on September 29 and had taken Rs 100 from him. After that, he went missing and his location was traced to Surat. However, the police could not track him after that. Later, lawyer Falguni Brahmbhatt tweeted on October 25: “Deepak Amritlal Panchal has been kidnapped on September 29…but unfortunately @Mumbaipolice has not time to trace him.”
Mumbai Police converted the missing persons case into an FIR on the charge of kidnapping.