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2-year delay raises questions




Mumbai: The failure of the Malabar Hill police station to solve the Asha Goel murder has raised eyebrows in police circles. The case was finally cracked only after the investigations were handed over to the crime branch.


A section in the police force raised doubts about the credibility of the Malabar Hill police which had initially handled the case. "The suspects were insiders and the motive was a property dispute. Everybody, including the three men arrested on Saturday, was available for questioning two years ago. How is it that the police took so many months to arrest the men?'' an IPS officer asked.


The then senior Inspector of Malabar Hill police, M U Patil, now retired, had arrested Pradeep Parab within a month of the murder. Parab was the manager of a guest house owned by the Goels in Bhuleshwar. During interrogation, Parab is believed to have spilled the beans and revealed the names of his accomplices. But it is not clear why the Malabar Hill police made no arrests. Parab, sources said, had dis closed to the Malabar Hill cops that a relative of Goel had offered money to kill the doctor. He said he had made a phone call from his cellphone to Goel's relative a few minutes after the murder. The police had then questioned this relative, but allowed him to go.


During his interrogation, Pawar mentioned the names of Goel's relatives involved in the conspiracy. But this was not taken on record by the investigators, a source revealed. In fact, following a series of reports in TOI on the "shoddy'' probe by Malabar Hill police, the police finally came out with a statement: "Pawar has named Suresh Goel as the prime conspirator in the case.'' But it was perhaps too late. Suresh, who was suffering from a kidney problem, was by then dead. And the buck stopped there.


Police chief A N Roy said the case was "complicated''. "It took us time to investigate it scientifically before arresting the suspects,'' he said. "Also, one of the accused, Suresh Goel, died within a month of the murder. This also delayed the probe.'' Roy said the Malabar Hill police had done a "good job''. "It is easy to blame them for the delay. But it was not easy to get the deceased's relatives for questioning. It was not an ordinary murder case,'' he said. Actually, the Malabar Hill police did precious little to follow up on their lead. Sources in the department said they suspected the role of Narendra, Suresh's son-in-law, but did not take him into custody. "The police also knew that the assailants had entered through the adjacent flat, the keys of which were with Pawankumar Goenka. He too was let off in the case and arrested only last Saturday,'' an officer stated. While refusing to comment on the investigations done by their counter parts at Malabar Hill, the crime branch officers said: "We got the case about a year ago and wanted to investigate it scientifically as the accused persons were influential and rich people.''


Said an officer, "We took Parab, Narendra, Shinde, Goenkar and six more people for lie detector, brain mapping and narco analysis tests to Bangalore . The tests and the analysis reports took about eight months to confirm the role of the three men. The clinching evidence in the case was the statement given by Parab in front of the magistrate, to whom he has disclosed the entire conspiracy hatched by Suresh Goel.''