The men who were arrested by Mumbai Police for allegedly impersonating NCP chief Sharad Pawar on a phone call and seeking the transfer of a government official had earlier used similar methods to settle business disputes and even source remdesivir during the second Covid wave and selling it in the black market.
The three accused — Kiran Kakade (26), Vikas Gurav (51) and Dheeraj Pathare (38) — were arrested from Pune on August 12. While Kakade was the alleged mastermind, Gurav was roped in for his ability to mimic Pawar, police said.
The men used illegal software, which allowed them to fake the location of the phone calls they made to their potential targets. While they would call from Pune, the number popping up on the victim’s phone would suggest that the call was being made from Pawar’s residence Silver Oak.
Last week, the three allegedly made a call to a senior official in the State Revenue Department, where Gurav spoke to the officer mimicking Pawar and demanded transfer of a tehsildar. The official, suspecting something was amiss, called up Pawar’s home and was told that no such call was made by the senior NCP leader, who was in Delhi at that time. The official subsequently approached Gamdevi police station and filed a complaint. The Mumbai Crime Branch traced the three accused and arrested them.
The three had reportedly gotten together by chance after Pathare got into a business dispute. At this time Pathare was told that Kakade claimed to be a close associate of Pawar and he would be able to help him resolve his dispute over a land with a local businessman. When Pathare met Kakade, he reportedly assured him of his help. However, Kakade then used the service of Gurav, who called the businessman on the phone pretending to be Pawar and told him to resolve the dispute. The man, thinking that Pawar was calling him, agreed and settled his dispute with Pathare.
Happy that his problem was solved, Pathare then allegedly brought another individual to Kakade to get an official transferred, for which a sum of Rs 50 lakh was to be shared between the three. They were caught after they made the call to Mantralaya.
After the arrest, the crime branch approached Pathare’s former business partner. The businessman had also lodged a complaint with police in Pimpri Chinchwad.
Police said that Kakade and Gurav had been using this method to fool others and had even contacted persons affiliated with the medicine industry pretending to be Pawar to source remdesivir during the second wave of Covid-19, when there was shortage of the medicine. The duo had then sold this medicine in the black market at Rs 25,000 per vial.
The three were produced in court on Friday and remanded in judicial custody.