Murder accused nabbed after 15 years

A history-sheeter, who was wanted in connection with the 2003 murder of a Nalasopara resident, was arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch on Monday.

According to the police, Raju Patange was shot dead over a land dispute, allegedly on orders from Rajendra Nikhalje alias Chhota Rajan. At the time, nine people were arrested, while Rajan, who is now behind bars, was declared a wanted accused along with four others.

Chandrakant Patil (66), one of the wanted accused, left the city soon after the murder. He first went to Pune and then moved to Belgaum where he got a helper’s job at a farmhouse. He had been staying there for the last 15 years.

“The accused would sporadically contact his family and meet them once in a while. He had changed his name and was living under a false identity,” Nisar Tamboli, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection I), said.

On Monday, the Unit XI of the Crime Branch received a tip-off that Mr. Patil was coming to Mumbai in the evening. He was picked up in Borivali and arrested.

Sources said Mr. Patil’s criminal record stretches beyond the 2003 murder, and he has also worked for gangster Jayendra alias Bhai Thakur. In 1991, a boat carrying smuggled silver ingots overturned off the coast of Vadrai village in Palghar, and tribals made away with scores of ingots. In order to recover the stolen silver, Thakur and his men went on a rampage, murdering and torturing tribals, and Mr. Patil was involved in the crime.

“Mr. Patil was arrested in the case in 1992, and spent five years in jail before securing bail in 1997. He then went to Delhi, where he started working for gangster Subhash Singh Thakur. In the same year, he was arrested along with other members of the gang after being found to be in possession of a large cache of arms and ammunition. He was convicted and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. However, he obtained parole five years later and never returned to the prison,” a Crime Branch officer said.

The officer said Mr. Patil, after jumping parole, came to Thane, and was later recruited for the Rajan gang.

Mr. Patil was handed over to the Nalasopara police on Tuesday.

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