Mumbai Police Crime Branch officiers had a spice trader tailing Chhota Rajan's former aide in Ho Chi Minh City for three months before being picked up, reports Mumbai Mirror.
The arrest of gangster Bunty Pandey in Vietnam was the outcome of meticulous planning by the Mumbai Crime Branch and relentless efforts of a decoy in the garb of a spice dealer who tailed the gangster for three months.
Pandey, who had led the sensational attack on East-West Airline's Thakiyudeen Wahid in 1995 in Khar, was brought back to Mumbai on Thursday morning after many years of running his operations from south-east Asia.
The former Chhota Rajan gangster was leading a life of relative anonymity in Ho Chi Minh city when Mumbai police intercepted some of his calls.
Police soon had a fair idea of where Pandey was in Vietnam, but to identify him and get him back was a difficult task. It was at this juncture that senior Crime Branch officers decided to undertake a covert operation to identify Pandey.
It was decided to send a decoy to Vietnam who would conduct surveillance on Pandey and send updates to Mumbai. “It was not possible for Crime Branch officers to visit the place because there was a risk of their getting identified by Pandey or his men. So we identified a person who had knowledge of the spice trade and introduced him in Vietnam as a spice dealer,” sources said.
The undercover spice dealer rented a house not very far from where Pandey was staying.
At this point, he had just one picture of Pandey. Within days, he began transmitting information to Mumbai about Pandey - his schedule, his operations and his men.
“From his information, we were confident that the person he was keeping watch on was Bunty Pandey. But since Pandey had changed his name in Vietnam, we needed a latest picture of his to be doubly sure,” said an officer.
The undercover found an opportunity when Pandey visited Thailand a month back. He followed him and managed to click some pictures in a mall while Pandey was shopping.
Back in Mumbai, cops showed these pictures to some of Pandey's old associates, who confirmed that it was him.
The Mumbai police then wrote to Interpol about Pandey's whereabouts and requested his arrest. All relevant documents to prove that the person they were asking for was Pandey were provided to Interpol. Two days ago, the Vietnamese police detained Pandey on Interpol notice and sent him to India via Kuala Lumpur.
A passport bearing name Vijay Subhash Sharma was seized from Pandey on his arrival. “The passport was procured by Pandey in India in 1999 and he went about in Vietnam under this pseudo name,” Crime Branch sources said.
According to Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Himanshu Roy, Bunty was staying in Vietnam with his wife and a child and dabbled in labour contracting.
Crime Branch officials are confident that Bunty's arrest will act as a deterrent for other fugitive gangsters who are remote controlling their gangs in Mumbai. “He (Bunty) will help us understand the modus operandi of fugitive,” Roy said.