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Friday, December 08, 2017
By Zuber Ansari

Thane rural SPI held in API Ashwini Birde missing case

It's been more than 18 months since Assistant Police Inspector (API) Ashwini Birde has been missing. Even as her family members are hoping against hope, for her return, in what was a dramatic development in the case, Senior Police Inspector Abhay Kurunkar was arrested by the Navi Mumbai police yesterday.

Kurunkar was picked up by Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Panvel Region, from his Thane residence and brought to Kalamboli police station where Birde's kidnapping case was registered by her family members.

At the time of registering a FIR, Birde's family members alleged  that her superiors had a hand in her missing case, but later they mentioned SPI Kurunkar's name in the FIR which was registered in January this year.

In April 2016,  API all of a sudden stopped turning up for work. She was last seen leaving her office in Thane on April 15. Birde, who worked with the Human Rights Commission, lived not more than five minutes away by road very close to Navi Mumbai.

After three months when she did not turn up at her work and had not made any contact with her family members including her husband and daughter, her brother came down from Bengaluru, approached the Navi Mumbai Police and lodged a missing complaint. He claimed that her superiors at work had been trying to trace her whereabouts but her phone remained switched off.

According to Navi Mumbai Police sources, the arrested SPI Kurunkar and Birde were very close  to each other. They first came into contact in Kolhapur where they were posted in the same region, even as their proximity to each other grew, with the couple spending quality time together. Later they got transferred to Sangli and there also, they used to meet regularly.

Later, Kurunkar was transferred to Thane (Rural) and Birde was transferred to the Human Rights Commission at the Kalamboli locality in Navi Mumbai. The couple allegedly were in constant touch despite the fact that she was in Navi Mumbai and he was in Thane (Rural).  After Birde went missing,  her family members made allegations against Kurunkar saying he is responsible for her being missing, or being kidnapped, police said.

“After going through the Call Detail Record (CDR) and other relevant evidence, it was established that Kurunkar had a direct or indirect link in Birde case, and he was arrested under Section 364 (Kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 497 (Adultery), 506-II (Punishment for criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC. He will be produced before the court today for remand,” ACP Prakash Nilewad said.  

Birde had been living alone in Kalamboli, with her family in Kolhapur. Her parents are old and unwell. She has a daughter who lives with her husband in Kolhapur.

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