Inside Story
Aug 8, 2012
MUMBAI: A 24-year-old manager of a jewellery manufacturing unit was murdered by five of his friends after he told them that he had stolen gold ornaments worth Rs 20 lakh. The victim's friends as well as two jewellers who had purchased the stolen gold from them have been arrested.

The victim, Prashant Rahatwal, worked at a gold manufacturing workshop in Rose Villa, Dahisar (W). He was responsible for assigning work to craftsmen and had a set of keys to the workshop. On July 30, Mayur Khandeshwar (32), who owns the workshop with his partner Manoj, lodged a complaint with the MHB police about 700 gms of gold ornaments being stolen. Rahatwal was the suspect as he had stopped coming to work.

"The theft took place on July 28. We went through Rahatwal's call records and found that his Alibaug-based friend, Surendra Patil, had called him the most," said investigating officer Santosh Dalvi of the MHB police.

The cops quizzed Rahatwal's fiancee, Kavita, and learnt that Surendra had offered to make Rahatwal a partner in a bar he was planning to purchase and had asked him to arrange for Rs 8 lakh in cash or gold. Surendra planned to show these as a guarantee for taking a loan to purchase the bar.

When Rahatwal agreed, Surendra called him to Alibaug on July 29. But Surendra had hatched a plot to bump off Rahatwal and steal his gold. He roped in four of their friends-Yashwant Patil (38), Jitendra Damugade (31), Manohar Patil (38) and Raju Malak (24)-to carry out the crime. First, they took Rahatwal out for drinks. On the pretext of showing him the bar to be purchased, the accused took Rahatwal into a forest, where they had already dug up a pit. They beat up Rahatwal with iron rods, strangled him with a wire and buried his body in the pit.

"When we interrogated Surendra, he claimed he was in Thane on the day of the incident. His cellphone was switched off between 11am and 6pm that day.

We nailed his lie through the location of his phone. Eventually, Surendra admitted to the murder and led us to the spot in the forest where they had dumped Rahatwal's body on August 4," an officer said. Surendra nd the other four accused were arrested by the Revdanda police in whose jurisdiction the murder had taken place.

Surendra led the cops to two Alibaug-based jewelers-Ashok Jain and Dilip Jain-who had purchased the gold from him despite knowing that it was stolen. "The Jains gave Surendra an initial sum of Rs 25,000 for the gold and were to pay the remaining amount later. Meanwhile, the Jains came to Mumbai and sold the gold at Zaveri Bazaar for Rs 12.5 lakh. We are trying to recover the stolen gold," the official said.

All the accused have been remanded in police custody till August 11.

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