Probing the January 17 robbery incident on the Sion-Panvel Highway, the Tilak Nagar police have made a breakthrough with the arrest of a 40-year-old man allegedly part of the dacoity gang. Six gang members are still absconding, the police said. Interestingly, the arrested accused, Deepak Ashtekar, has claimed that he was made to commit the crime on the pretext of job training.
The gang caught the victim on the highway
The victim was driving a car when he was stopped mid-way by the gang in the middle of the highway. Ashtekar, who was dressed formally, introduced himself as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officer. He told the victim that he had information that he possessed black money. Subsequently, he pointed a pistol at him and left with money and valuables worth ₹1.5 lakh.
Police immediately launched a probe
Acting on the man's complaint, the police launched a probe, which was initially hampered by a dearth of clues. The faces of gang members were not visible in the CCTV footage. A close look at the visuals landed the first clue. The cops managed to grab the number plate of the vehicle in which Ashtekar and his accomplices had travelled.
The gang's position was constantly relocating
The gang had borrowed the four-wheeler from an acquaintance. "The vehicle was traced, and we got in touch with the owner (acquaintance's husband), who had no idea who was behind the wheel. On further digging, we found out about Ashtekar and his facial description matched the one provided by the complainant," explained PSI Sandeep Pawar from the investigating team. His location was always moving or untraceable, but he was traced with the help of informants.
The accused was in connection with his wife
Ashtekar's address was found in Nashik, where the police got hold of his family members. He was in touch with his wife via calls. Accordingly, the cops asked his wife to call him from a different number and succeeded in tracing his whereabouts.
The accused has no criminal record
During interrogation, Ashtekar revealed that months ago, he met one of the gang members (also the mastermind) who "hired" him, claiming to own a security provider company. "He was told it's a security-related job in Mumbai. As part of the 'training', they made him commit such a crime and even paid him his share. All that mattered for him was having a job, so he didn't resist or question," added Pawar.
Ashtekar has no criminal record. He, along with his gang, has been booked under the Indian Penal Code sections 395 (dacoity), 392 (robbery), 170 (personating a public servant), 34 (common intention), as well as the Arms Act. Ashtekar is currently in judicial custody.