A rickshaw driver and his accomplices allegedly kidnapped a 32-year-old “mentally ill” Vasai resident and beat him to death, after alleging he had stolen their phones. The family of the deceased denied the allegation. Police identified the dead as Pradeep Mejiyatar. His sister, Romila Shah, said that he was “mentally ill since his wife left him about 10 years ago”.
Pradeep, who is affectionately known as Shah Rukh in his area, lives with his mother, Bhikhiben Pannalal Mejiyatar, 63, and siblings in Vasai West.
The incident took place on Saturday, May 21, Romila said. “He ran home and said there were two men chasing him. Strangers told us that my brother stole their cell phone and didn’t return it. They put him in a car after assaulting him with a belt and took him away. The incident was captured by CCTV cameras.
“Around midnight, photos of the corpse were circulated in several WhatsApp groups, and we identified him with his clothes and rings,” she added. According to police, the two dumped Pradeep’s body in a drain near the railroad tracks in Nalasopara East. Divisional Assistant Commissioner of Police Pankaj Shirsat said, his post-mortem was conducted at JJ hospital.
“There were multiple injuries all over his body. The FIR has been registered at Achole police station [in Nalasopara] on the complaint of his brother,” Shirsat added. Romila said, “The doctors told us that his head was badly injured.” Senior Inspector Chandrakant Sarode, Achole police station, said, “Initially, on May 21, we registered an accidental death report. Based on the post-mortem report, we filed an FIR under IPC Section 302 (murder).”
“We have taken the two men, Omkar Pawar, 21, and Uday Bhan Prasad, 22, in our custody for further questioning. Pawar drives an auto and Prasad is a small-time scrap dealer,” Sarode, who is the investigating officer in the case, added.
Police have not yet added kidnapping charges against the men, who were caught on camera forcing Pradeep into the auto. Sarode said, “Other relevant Sections will be added to the FIR after further investigation.” Pradeep was popular among shopkeepers, vegetable vendors, hoteliers and others in Vasai. There is a growing demand on social media, with people seeking ‘Justice for Shah Rukh’.