Pune : On Tuesday City police claimed to have cracked the case in which four armed robbers allegedly held an elderly cotton trader and three others hostage at gunpoint at his bungalow here and decamped with cash and valuables worth Rs 5.7 lakh last month. Crime branch officials said they have arrested five people, all residents of Mumbai, including a son of the cotton trader's driver, who is the "mastermind" of the robbery that took place in upmarket Apte Road locality in Deccan area on January 16.
According to police, the robbers had held cotton trader Hanskumar Khimji (79), his sister-in-law Hemaji Chheda (63), his domestic aide and caretaker of the bungalow, hostage. "During the investigation, the crime branch officials received some leads and five people were arrested from Mumbai on Tuesday morning," Shirish Sardeshpande, deputy commissioner of police (crime), said.
He accused have been identified as driver's son Dipak Shivaji Medage (37), Kiran Tawde (36), Paras Solanki (27), Sachin Desoza (28) and Ganesh Gore (24), he said. Sardeshpande said two more suspects were still at large and the crime branch teams have launched a manhunt to nab them. "Khemji wanted to sell off his Apte Road property. His driver, Shivaji Medage, who has been with Khimjis for the last several years, often used to discuss about it at his home," the official said.
"His son Dipak, who would overhear his conversations about the property and the Khimjis, came in contact with other suspects, who have criminal background. They decided to rob the family presuming that Khimjis have brokered a deal for their Pune property and are in possession with a lot of money," Sardeshpande said.
He added that since Dipal Medage knew the bungalow in Pune, he brought the four accused to the city on January 16 and showed them the place. However, he himself remained away from the place at a safe distance, the official added.
"After the four accused barged into the bungalow and threatened the elderly people at a gunpoint, they came to know that the family does not have much money except some cash and valuables. Thereafter, they sent one of the accused with the driver to Khimji's Mumbai office to bring Rs 1 crore," the official said. In the meantime, when Chheda raised an alarm, the remaining robbers developed a cold feet and fled away with the cash and valuables worth Rs 5.7 lakh. They also alerted Medage and one more accused who was with the driver on their way to Mumbai.
"While Medage and three others left for Mumbai in a private vehicle, the accused who was going with the driver, got down midway and escaped," he said. Sardeshpande said the driver Shivaji Medage was not involved in the crime and he had no idea of the conspiracy hatched by his son. Further investigation is on.