Missing Ghatkopar jeweller’s body found in Panvel

MUMBAI: The mystery of the has been solved. Days after Rajeshwar Udani (57) failed to return home, the police found his decomposed body in Nere village, , earlier this week, not knowing the body’s identity at the time. Udani’s family identified him on Friday. The car in which he was last seen is yet to be traced.

The Panvel police found the body near Dehrang Dam on Tuesday, and alerted other police stations in MMR. The Pant Nagar police, investigating the Udani case, told his family members about the body and asked them to have a look. Udani was identified because of his clothes, footwear and belt. The police have said he was possibly murdered and have detained several people, including a minister’s personal assistant and a few bar girls.

The police have also seized a car suspected to have been used in the crime. TOI was first to report on the mysterious disappearance of the businessman in the December 3 edition. “The circumstances in which Udani’s body was found in an isolated spot in Panvel raises several questions. We are in the process of ascertaining if the body shows injuries,” an officer said.

Udani was also a BJP activist and in the business of art and antiques, particularly MF Hussain’s paintings, the police said. He dabbled in real estate and had tried to redevelop a property on R B Mehta Marg, but had to withdraw after residents objected. He lived in Mahalaxmi building, Garodia Nagar, with his family (wife, son, daughter and mother) and had four flats at Lalit Prakash, R B Mehta Marg. His son Ronak told the police the family was into manufacturing diamond and gold jewellery under the brand Mriya Concept and Design. Quoting Ronak, a police officer said, “They were doing well. There was no financial crisis or dispute. Udani had no enemies.”

Neighbours said they hardly saw Udani in Mahalaxmi building. “He used to leave after lunch and would return late in the night,” said one.

Senior inspector Ashok Rajput of Panvel taluka police station said, “A stench was emanating from the spot the body was found; a security guard who was passing by alerted us. As there were no injury marks on the body (prima facie), we registered an accidental death case and kept the unidentified body at NMMC morgue, and sent pictures to other police stations.”

Sources said Udani used to visit beer bars late in the night and call data records showed he was in constant touch with several girls working there.

Ronak told the police that on November 27, his father, after finishing work around 8.30pm, left his office in Lalit Prakash building, Ghatkopar (east). His driver, Vijay Misal, said they went to Vikhroli via , where Udani asked Misal to get off the car as he wanted to speak to someone on phone.

“Misal got off while Udani spoke to somebody through a WhatsApp call. In 10-15 minutes, another car arrived and Udani left in that car, asking Misal to drive back home. Misal did not note down the number of the other car as he found nothing amiss in the situation. Udani was in the habit of going out late in the night,” said assistant commissioner of police Mansingh Patil. As of now, the case continues to be one of kidnapping, pending investigations. A scrutiny of Udani’s call detail record (CDR) revealed his last location as Mulund-Airoli bridge. After that, his mobile was .
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