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THE MUMBAI Police on Monday recovered the body of Siddharth Sanghvi, a vice-president with HDFC Bank who was missing for the past five days, from a hilly area near Haji Malang shrine in Maharashtra’s Thane district and arrested one of the main accused in the case.
According to the police, preliminary probe indicates that Sanghvi was murdered with a motive of robbery. Further probe is on, they said. The autopsy report, the police said, revealed that Sanghvi sustained 13 stab injuries. His throat had been slit, they said.
Police have arrested Sarfaraz Shaikh (20), driver of an app-based taxi service who also worked as a fabricator in the parking lot at Kamla Mills Compound, from where Sanghvi went missing on September 5.
According to Mumbai Police Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone III) Abhinash Kumar, the accused had killed Sanghvi on September 5. After disposing of his body, the accused had even called the bank executive’s father using the victim’s cellphone and assured him that Sanghvi was safe with him. Following Sanghvi’s disappearance, N M Joshi Marg police station in Mumbai’s Lower Parel had registered a case of kidnapping on September 8.
For the past 15 days, the police said, the accused had been carrying a knife to his workplace in the hope of finding a target to rob. “There were four-five vehicles in the parking lot at Kamla Mills Compound. In the past 15 days, he saw that Sanghvi was the last to leave (office). He kept an eye on his movements for five days. On Wednesday, he waited on the floor where Sanghvi’s vehicle had been parked. When Sanghvi arrived around 7.30 pm, there were no other cars there,” a police officer said.
Shaikh allegedly tried to threaten Sanghvi first. When he resisted, Shaikh slashed his neck.
“Despite sustaining an injury, Sanghvi tried to escape as he rushed into the car, Shaikh followed him and stabbed him several times using a four-inch knife,” another police officer said.
He then drove to Kalyan in Sanghvi’s Maruti Ignis car to dispose of the body.
The accused abandoned the car in Koperkhairane later in the night on September 5.
The next day, he switched on Sanghvi’s phone briefly. On September 8, he inserted his own SIM card in Sanghvi’s phone and made a call to the HDFC executives’s father assuring him that his son was safe. Shaikh also asked him to wait for the next call.
“On Saturday, he again switched on the phone, following which he was caught by Navi Mumbai Police with the help of a local informant,” a police officer said.
The police said Shaikh’s family stay in Uttar Pradesh, while he shared a room with two others near Khairne Talav and paid Rs 4,000 a month as rent.
“Shaikh bought a bike recently for which he had to repay a loan of around Rs 35,000. He had no means to repay it, so he decided to commit the crime. He assumed that the vice-president would have Rs 35,000 with him, so he targeted him,” DCP Kumar said.
Seeking custody of the accused, the investigating officer said in court that preliminary probe revealed that robbery was the motive.
Sanghvi’s wallet and other belongings are still missing. His phone was recovered from Shaikh. “We also want to find out the motive and whether more people are involved in the case,” said the officer.
Speaking to the magistrate in court, Shaikh said: “Nobody else is involved in the crime. I have done this alone.”
On Monday, police added sections of murder and robbery to the FIR registered against Shaikh, in addition to sections 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 364 (A) (kidnapping for ransom) and 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person) of the Indian Penal Code.