Friday, August 12, 2011

Arrest of Charles Sobhraj in Goa

Investigative skills of police lost
Thursday, August 11, 2011 AT 06:04 PM (IST)
Tags: Point of view,   police,   Camil Parkhe
I was winding up my work in our newspaper office in Panaji on a Sunday evening in March 1986 when I attended a telephone call. A newspaper reader wanted to know about the frantic activity going around in Porvorim near Panaji. I made a quick call to the police control room and relaxed when I got the stock reply, "Shant ahe, Saheb." (all is well!)
Soon, I got another call. This time the caller was more specific. Has the police caught a big fish near Porvorim, he asked. That was  an alarm bell for the crime reporter in me. I rang up a police inspector but he too said there was nothing to report. Within half an hour, I had received more calls. Sensing a major story,  I rang up the Goa police chief at 10.30 pm to know about any major raids in the Union territory. He categorically said there was no such thing. Normally, such reply from the top cop would have been final. But a senior colleague who heard my telephonic conversation was smarter. He suggested that we leave on his scooter for Mapusa to see what was happening there.
After arriving at a hotel in Mapusa, we realised that a major event was indeed unfolding there. The police had  succeeded in nabbing internationally infamous criminal Charles Sobhraj, who had recently fled from the high-security Tihar jail. The serial killer was nabbed by a daredevil team of Mumbai police, which had been on his trail for many days. The Mumbai police had not given any clues to the Goa police about the big fish they had in their net.
After midnight, the Mumbai police bundled off Sobhraj into a taxi and sped away for Mumbai. Police inspector Madhukar Zende had nabbed the fugitive. I was glad my senior colleague coaxed me into rushing to Mapusa. Next day, both of us shared a byline for the banner story carried by our newspaper about the arrest of Charles Sobhraj.
The arrest of Charles Sobhraj is one of the classic cases of the investigations by Mumbai police, who commanded a reputation for their investigative skills in those days. Their network of informers and their skill in cracking crime mysteries were talked of with great admiration in the country and abroad. Alas, this skill is now a part of history. During the past two decades, we have not heard of the Mumbai police or any other police in the country making any headway in any major crime cases, including even the revolting terror attacks.

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