A Honda Accord & tattoos: UP's Special Task Force cracks techie's murder after 2 years
It took two years, but some tattoos and a car helped the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force crack the case of the murder of Ankit Chauhan.
The techie was killed in broad daylight on 13 April 2015 in Noida. Ever since there have been multiple pleas from his parents to the force to find out the murderer.
Shashank Jadaun, the man who allegedly fired the bullets that killed Chauhan is a failed businessman. Barely 25, Jadaun got a civil engineering degree from the prestigious Delhi College of Engineering in 2014. He scored an impressive 96% in Class 12, the police said.
Jadaun was the mastermind of the murder plot along with Manoj Kumar, a cabbie who has been driving an Ola cab for the last six months, and Pankaj, a car mechanic who died of a multi-organ failure. Pankaj died four-five months ago in a Ghaziabad hospital.
Chauhan worked for Tata Consultancy Services. On leave on 13 April, a Monday, the newly wed techie had gone to his wife's office (Accenture) at Sector 139, for lunch with another friend Gagan Duhare.
As he drove out of the Accenture office, a Honda Accord started following him. Jaduan, Manoj Kumar and Pankaj in that white sedan.
Sensing danger, Chauhan allegedly called a friend to inform that he is being chased. Soon after, one of the persons in the car following him, shot at him.
The first bullet, it is said, missed him, but the murderer got out of the car and pumped in more bullets as Chauhan collapsed on the seat. His seatbelt was still fastened.
Chauhan's friend Gagan who was also in the car, however, escaped unhurt.
What happened next
Initially, the police had claimed that the murder had been planned for weeks. They based their observation on the fact that the criminals had followed the car, targeted Chauhan only and had fled the scene without looting anything.
The STF are, however, of the opinion now that the criminals were just looking for a Fortuner car and they targeted Chauhan since he was 'easy prey'. The police had worked on all possible theories before arriving at this one.
They had speculated that the murder could have been the handiwork of Chauhan's wife Ameesha's jilted lover. The murderer could have also been a cousin that Chauhan's family had differences with, according to some reports.
Frustrated with the pace at which investigations were progressing, Chauhan’s parents had claimed that the police was not investigating the role of his wife.
Some progress, finally
After the UP Police failed to nab the murderers, the high court transferred the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). But the apex investigating agency, besides announcing Rs 5 lakh as a reward for information on the criminals, also sought the help of the STF.
Amitabh Yash, Inspector General, STF, said they had a few clues to begin their investigations with.
There was a grainy CCTV grab from the camera outside Accenture office. The footage from the two-megapixel camera, according to the police, led them to zero in on the car – a Honda Accord. However, they did not have the registration number.
Gagan had told the police a few possible numbers and had also told them that the murderer had a tattoo on his arm.
“We did a lot of data mining. There were about 1,500 Honda cars to start with,” Yash said explaining the task at hand for the UP Police.
After looking at the footgae, the police realised that it was a 2005 model Honda. UP14BA2300 was one possible registration number of the Accord car provided to the police. The murderers had used a fake registration plate.
The police then found an Accord with a registration number plate UP14BA2200. However, the owner of the car told the cops that he had already sold it to Shashank Jadaun.
The STF had zeroed in on Jadaun, around three months ago. He was arrested only on 1 June from Dhaula Kuan, the police said.
“The car, the appearance, the two tattoos on his arm, matched the description given by Gagan,” Yash said.
“We kept a keen watch on him for three months. We wanted to be sure before arresting anybody,” one cop added.
What was the motive?
According to Yash, Jadaun had lent Rs 4 lakh to Pankaj, who was refusing to pay him. Pankaj, who the police say had a criminal streak in him, came up with the idea of looting a Fortuner. They had planned to sell the car off to one Satyapal, from Bulandshahar, who would pay Rs 8-10 lakh for it.
Chauhan was told it would solve the financial problems for both him and Pankaj. It was Pankaj's licensed revolver that was used in the murder, the cops said.
But why did they not steal the Fortuner after shooting Chauhan, if that was the real motive?
“After Jadaun shot Chauhan, his body got stuck in the seat in such a way that Jadaun found it difficult to push him out. This is why they could not take the car,” an investigator said.
Besides this, when the first shot was fired, Chauhan had reversed the car and had hit a tree in the process. This also was another reason as to why the three abandoned the car at the spot instead of taking it.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen