The Pune Police recently told the court that no evidence was found against Santoshkumar Gupta, the only suspect in the murder of 23-year-old techie, Antara Das, and that the charges against him should be dropped. The murder had taken place on December 16, 2016. Two years later, the case still remains unsolved and the investigation remains open. Like the Antara Das case, there are at least five murders that have taken place in Pune in the last 10 years, but even years later have remained unsolved.
SURESH ALURKAR (59): Died on December 14, 2008
His name resonated in the world of music lovers in Pune for his vast collection and impeccable knowledge of music and his Alurkar Music Store.
On December 14, 2008 Alurkar’s neighbour in Swapnanagari Society found his body with his throat slit and limps tied in his flat on Karve Road. The residential society is located behind Alurkar’s music store. Police said the murder could have taken place around eight hours before it came to light. They had also found the knife near the body.
In January 2010, the Deccan Gymkhana police even filed a temporary closure report in the court, which meant that the investigation by the police will be on hold until any lead comes up on its own.
Police probed into all possibilities, including family dispute, business rivalry, disputes about copyrights of the music records and even dispute over property deal. Over 310 criminals on police record were grilled, statements of over 1,000 people were recorded, thousands of phone calls were checked for clues. It was even concluded that the assailant who used the knife to slit the throat was a left-handed person, but no suspect was ever arrested.”
DARSHANA TONGARE (21): Died on July 30, 2010
On July 30, it will be eight years since Darshana Tongare, a software professional, was hacked to death on her way home in Bavdhan. The local police and CID have worked on several theories, questioned over 325 people and conducted six polygraph tests, but they had been unable to get a concrete lead. “We have hopes that some day we will know who killed our daughter. That is all I can ask,” said Darshana’s father Devidas Tongare. Darshana, who at the time of the murder stayed at Suvarna Park Society in Bavdhan Khurd and was a trainee at IBM in Pune, was stabbed near Maratha Mandir Hall near her residence by an unidentified assailant. The incident had taken place after a friend dropped her there. She succumbed to her injuries in the hospital hours later.
Investigations had revealed that Darshana was using her brother’s mobile handset on the day she had been murdered since she wanted to listen to music. This handset could never be traced. Police had suspected the murderer took away or damaged this handset. The family members of Darshana had raised suspicion over some of their relatives. CID performed polygraph and lie-detector tests on some of these relatives, two of her friends, including the one who dropped her, and even a rickshaw driver who had claimed that he had dropped her to a place in Kothrud before she was picked up by her friend.
HARI DHAMDHERE (84). Died on March 24, 2011
The murder of an 84-year-old retired chief engineer Hari Vasudev Dhamdhere, who had worked on the Koyna Dam Power project, is yet another unsolved murder in Pune. Dhamdhere’s body was found with stab wounds on the chest and neck by his son Rajiv and daughter-in-law Savita, when they returned home at 9.30 pm. Cash worth Rs 3.2 lakh was also missing from the house. According to police findings, the money was from the daily collection of Rajiv’s gas agency.
Although police initially suspected the involvement of someone known to the family, there has been no breakthrough. Police said the murder had been brutal and Dhamdhere’s body had more than 20 to 25 stab wounds. He was alone in the house at the time of the murder. An officer with the Dattawadi police station said they were still working on the theory that the murder was committed with an intent to rob.
Police said the victim’s wife and daughter-in-law had gone out of the house at 5.30 pm and his son left for a meeting soon after. At 7 pm, a gas agency employee came to hand over the daily cash collection and left around 8 pm. Police interrogation of 20 to 25 employees of the gas agency and several inquiries have yielded no breakthrough in the case.
PRAHLAD JOGDANDKAR (54): Died on May 2, 2012
Another murder case that still remains unsolved is that of Prahlad Laxman Jogdandkar, a security supervisor with Savitribai Phule Pune University.
Jogdandkar was reportedly shot by an unidentified youth, whom he had caught with a woman in a compromising position on the night of May 2, 2012. The incident had taken place near the university’s servants quarters, located 200 metres from Chatushrungi police station.
Jogdandkar was patrolling the university premises along with a security guard, Balasaheb Nikalje, when he saw the couple. Nikalje told police that Jogdandkar initially demanded Rs 5,000 from the couple to let them go, but settled for Rs 500. The youth had paid up and fled the spot on his bike, along with the woman whom he kept calling Anju.
Later, he came back and asked him to return at least Rs 100, saying he needed it to pay for petrol. When he refused,the man shot him twice in the chest. Nikalje then fled from the spot but lost consciousness. After he regained consciousness, he informed the university security office.
VARUN SETHI (34): Died on May 29, 2014
Varun Subhash Sethi, a software engineer working with Infosys was found murdered under mysterious circumstances at Mulshi in Pune late on May 29 in 2014. Sethi was originally from Bathinda. The murder came to light after another Infosys employee saw Sethi lying in a pool of blood on Marunji Road. Soon, a police team reached the spot and rushed Sethi to a hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.
The post-mortem report revealed a wound on the left side of Sethi’s chest. His bag was found intact along with his wallet, bank cards, cellphone, a tablet, office documents and other valuables. Investigations found that Sethi had come to Pune from Bathinda on May 5 after he got a job with Infosys in its Hinjewadi office.
Police said Sethi was searching for a house on rent. He visited an apartment in a nearby residential society on Thursday and left around 8.40 pm. Around 10 pm, the police got a call about his body.