In the late Nineties, Vijay Palande had adopted an interesting identity – that of a waiter at the iconic Copper Chimney restaurant in Juhu. The job was ideal as it gave him the opportunity to keep a close watch on prospective victims while serving them their favourite dish. On one such occasion, he met a young engineer from Air India and slowly warmed up to him after ascertaining that he was genuinely wealthy – he owned two palatial homes, drove a Mercedes and drank one of the most expensive brands of gin called Bombay Sapphire. The two struck up a friendship and one day, Vijay introduced Simran to Anup Das, as his younger sister.
In January 1998, Vijay Palande and Anup Das had planned a joint business trip to the picturesque Mahabaleshwar hill station, situated in the Western Ghats. Midway through the trip, Vijay sedated Anup and after killing him, threw his body down the Kumbharli valley. A week later, Swaraj Ranjan Das, Anup’s father approached Vijay asking after his missing son. The elderly man also ended up dead and his body was found in Satara.
‘We never doubted Palande. He had known my son for at least five years and had blended so well with the family. It was only after my husband and son did return for a month that we got suspicious,” said Usha Das, Anup’s mother. The Das family waited for a month and on 27th February, 1998 they filed a case for kidnapping against Vijay Palande.
Nine months after the double murders, Vijay Palande was sentenced for life in November 1998, but escaped while he was granted parole, for two months. He was shoved back into jail in 2006, but three years later thanks to an inept police force, he bolted yet again and went back to the world of crime.
Sixty-seven-year-old Arun Tikku was terribly incensed when he learnt that this son had leased out two of this three flats in Samarth Aangan Apartment in Andheri (West) to virtual strangers. The elderly man discovered that his son had leased out the flats for a two-year period to a German woman called Levis Braganza, and her paramour, Vijay Palande, and the other one to Dhananjay Shinde.
Vijay Palande’s original plan in this devious project was to sign the leases for the two fabulous flats at Samarth Aangan Society, get rid of its owner and then work towards acquiring his properties. Unfortunately for him, even before he could execute the second part of his plan, Arun Tikku had arrived in Mumbai and proceeded to cancel the lease agreements. Therefore, it seemed logical to get the old man out of the way first.
Ram Gopal Varma was approached by a fan to make a film chronicling Palande’s crimes. Vijay Palande, who languishes in Thane jail is far from repentant.
– Shantanu Guha Ray, Found Dead, ‘Everyone Wants To be Bhiku Matre’, (Westland, 2017).