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Arms case accused unmasked after 32 years of jumping bail

Shivaji Shinde, who became Bhau, owns over 70 rooms in slum pocket in Andheri

A wanted fugitive, who worked hard for 32 years to hide his true identity, while trying to ensure that he was known by his nickname and not by the name mentioned in the police records, landed in the police net on Tuesday.

The accused, Shivaji Shinde, was 22 years old when he was arrested in an illegal weapons possession case and charged under the Arms Act in 1985.

The case went to trial, and after attending a few hearings, Mr. Shinde jumped bail and went missing in 1987. The Esplanade Court subsequently issued a standing non-bailable warrant against him, and Mr. Shinde had been wanted since then.

Earlier this month, the Unit VIII of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch received a tip-off that a local landlord-cum-social worker was actually an accused wanted in an Arms Act case registered in the 1980s.

The police first checked their records and identified the case, after which the suspect, known as Bhau Shinde in his locality, was placed under surveillance.

“We studied Bhau’s movement and interactions for several days while also gathering as much information about him as we could. Everyone we spoke to told us that he was only known as Bhau. He owns around 70 to 80 rooms in a slum pocket near Classic Hotel in Andheri (East), and has a fair amount of clout in the area,” a Unit VIII officer said.

After around a week of surveillance and intelligence gathering, the police picked up Bhau for questioning. “He kept denying any role in the case registered in 1985, and kept saying that he was a well-respected landlord in his locality. Due to the significant amount of time that had passed after his arrest, getting a confirmation based on looks was hardly an option. Hence, before we picked him up, we gathered information about all the relatives that had been mentioned in the original FIR and court documents, and they all matched with his existing relatives,” the officer said.

When Bhau refused to break, the investigating team confronted him with the evidence regarding his relatives, after which he confessed. He was then arrested. The Unit VIII produced him in the Esplanade Court, who remanded him in judicial custody, officials said.

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