Pune News Flashback 2023: 5 Most Talked-About Crime Stories Of 2023

Pune News Flashback 2023: 5 Most Talked-About Crime Stories Of 2023

In 2023, Pune witnessed several high-profile crime cases, from the arrest of Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist Pradeep Kurulkar in an espionage case to the escape and subsequent capture of drug racketeer Lalit Patil

Aakash SinghUpdated: Friday, December 29, 2023, 12:14 PM IST
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Pune News Flashback 2023: 5 Most Talked-About Crime Stories Of 2023 | File Photos

In 2023, Pune witnessed several high-profile crime cases, from the arrest of Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist Pradeep Kurulkar in an espionage case to the escape and subsequent capture of drug racketeer Lalit Patil. These incidents garnered significant attention and curiosity. Let's take a brief look at some of these cases.

1. Arrest of DRDO scientist Pradeep Kurulkar

Pradeep Kurulkar, who was leading the DRDO’s Research and Development Establishment (Engineers) – R & DE (E) laboratory in Pune at the time, was arrested by the Maharashtra ATS on May 3. He faced charges of leaking classified information to a woman later identified as a Pakistani Intelligence Operative (PIO) using the pseudonym “Zara Dasgupta”. Initially, upon receiving information about Kurulkar’s alleged contact with the PIO, DRDO officials seized his electronic devices—cell phones, laptop, and desktop hard discs—on February 24 for forensic examination. A subsequent DRDO investigation revealed that Kurulkar had maintained continuous contact with the PIO through WhatsApp messages, voice and video calls, and had shared sensitive information, including a highly confidential report on the Bramhos missile.

2. Lalit Patil drugs case

On September 30, Pune city police apprehended one Subhash Mandal outside Sassoon General Hospital in possession of mephedrone valued at ₹2 crore. Subsequent investigations led to the arrest of a canteen staff member at the hospital. The staffer revealed that the contraband had been supplied by Lalit Patil, an inmate admitted to ward number 16 of the hospital. However, Patil managed to escape from the hospital on October 2. After an extensive search operation, authorities apprehended him in Bengaluru on October 17. Collaborative efforts by the Pune, Mumbai, and Nashik police resulted in the arrest of several individuals involved in the drug racket. Furthermore, a mephedrone manufacturing facility in Nashik, allegedly operated by Patil's brother Bhushan, was busted. In connection with the case, a total of 13 people have been arrested. Among those apprehended were individuals implicated in Patil's escape, including on-duty police officers at Sassoon Hospital, a hospital staff member, and a medical officer at Yerwada jail.

3. ISIS terror module case

On July 18, a Pune city police team apprehended three individuals – Mohammed Shahnawaz Alam of Jharkhand, Mohammed Yusuf Khan, and Mohammed Yunus Mohammed Yakub Saki – under suspicion of vehicle theft in the Kothrud area. Subsequent investigation revealed that both Khan and Saki were listed as "most wanted" by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for their involvement in a case concerning the recovery of explosives from a car in Rajasthan in March 2022. Living in Kondhwa under the guise of "graphic designers," Alam, Khan, and Saki were exposed. The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) took over the inquiry from the Pune police, leading to the arrest of several additional suspects associated with alleged ISIS links. The investigation was transferred to the NIA on August 8. Among the subsequent arrests, the most notable was on July 26: Dr Adnanali Sarkar, a 43-year-old anaesthesiologist residing in Kondhwa, was apprehended. The NIA also detained Sarkar’s brother-in-law, Zulfikar Ali Barodawala. Allegations by the NIA implicated Barodawala and other suspects from Pune in "organising and participating in bomb-making workshops". They purportedly prepared a demo IED and conducted a "controlled explosion" in Kondhwa in 2022. Allegedly, they also conducted bomb tests in Pune jungles and various other locations. The authorities confiscated explosive material, tents, a drone, and several electronic devices from their possession.

4. Aghori pooja

In March, a distressing incident came to light when a 27-year-old woman filed a complaint against her husband and in-laws for subjecting her to harassment and collecting her menstrual blood to perform ‘Aghori pooja’. According to the FIR, the victim's in-laws tied her hands and feet during her menstrual period, used a cotton swab to collect her menstrual blood, and purportedly sold it for witchcraft purposes, allegedly fetching ₹50,000. This disturbing incident occurred at the victim’s in-laws' residence in Beed district, prompting her to seek refuge at her parents' home in Pune before filing the complaint. The Maharashtra State Women's Commission, under the leadership of Rupali Chakankar, expressed deep concern over the incident, labeling it as a disgraceful act that reflects poorly on humanity. Chakankar emphasised the distressing reality that despite being in progressive cities like Pune, women are still subjected to such appalling crimes. She underscored the pressing need for continued efforts to protect women from such atrocities and reinforce their position in society.

5. Forced to consume human bones to conceive child

In January, a shocking incident emerged when a 28-year-old computer engineer filed a complaint against her husband and in-laws, accusing them of compelling her to consume human bone powder as part of a ritual believed to aid in conception. The accused reportedly conducted rituals during every amavasya (new moon). As per the complaint, during one such ritual held at a relative's residence, the accused brought human bones and other items, crushing them into powder. They then allegedly coerced the woman to consume the powder. When she refused, one of them purportedly brandished a revolver, intimidating her into consuming the substance. The victim claimed that such incidents occurred multiple times.

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