Five held for killing Mumbai snake dealer

Mumbai: Ghatkopar police arrested five men last week for the murder of a 47-year-old Mumbai resident, Udaybhan Pal. According to police, Pal was killed for failing to provide the main accused a Red Sand boa he had promised after allegedly taking Rs 21 lakh for it.

Pradip Surve (47), Vinod Shudrik (30), Suresh Sonawane (33), Akshay Awghade (23) and a driver, Kalim Qureshi, were arrested for killing Pal and then disposing of his body, which was recovered from Kumbharli Ghat, Satara, on June 25.

According to police, Pal left for Satara on June 17 for work but never returned. His family was unable to contact him thereafter. Worried by this, they registered a missing person complaint at the Ghatkopar police station on June 23.

During investigation, police found that Pal was involved in the smuggling of Red Sand boas, a non-venomous species of snake. The snake is in demand in the black market because it is believed to bring good luck, has curative powers and is also used in black magic.

A team of Ghatkopar police found that Pal had been in constant touch with Pradip Surve, when the former went missing. Accordingly, police took Surve in custody. During interrogation, he revealed that he and his four accomplices had killed Pal and later disposed of his body.

According to Surve, Pal allegedly took Rs 21 lakh from him on the pretext of giving him a Red Sand boa, but he did not keep his word. Surve later learnt that Pal was making fun of him by telling others to make money from Surve just as he had done.

On June 18, Surve and his friends took Pal to Gopalwadi near Koyna Nagar in Karad, where he was allegedly beaten to death and his body was disposed of in the hilly area of Kumbharli Ghat.

An offence was registered at the Karad city police station under the Indian Penal Code sections of murder (302), destroying evidence (201) and common intention (34). Ghatkopar police have handed over the accused to Karad city police.

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