Wai, a picturesque town in the foothills of Mahabaleshwar known as a favourite locale for Bollywood film crew in Maharashtra, was rocked by news of serial killings on Tuesday. A probe into the disappearance of an anganwadi teacher in the region had put police on the trail of a fake doctor and eventually uncove red six murders committed by the same man over 13 years.
Santosh Pol (41), a certified electropath by profession, told police after his arrest that not only had he murdered the teacher by injecting her with a lethal drug, he had similarly killed five others.
Satara SP Sandip Patil told media the body of the teacher, Mangal Jedhe (49), as well as the skeletal remains of three others had been exhumed from behind Pol's poultry farm at Dhom village near Wai town. Pol posed as a `doctor' and worked for a while at Ghotavadekar Hospital in Wai. When contacted, Vidyadhar Ghotavadekar of Ghotavadekar Hospital, told media, "I knew Pol did not have a medical degree.He had assisted me in the hospital for eight years mainly during the night. But he has not been working with me since one-and-half-years."
He said Pol had never misbehaved with any patient. "Except for Salma Shaikh, a nurse, I do not know any person Pol is supposed to have murdered," said Ghotavadekar. Shaikh had worked as a staff nurse for a few months at the hospital before she disappeared in January 2016. Ghotavadekar said he terminated Pol's services after he be came a nuisance. "Pol used to threaten people with ACB cases," he added.
Police said Pol confessed to having murdered teacher Mangal Jedhe after she allegedly threatened to spill the beans on his many illicit relationships. "He took Mangal to his poultry farm and injected her with a neuro-muscular paralytic drug…the impact of the drug was such that Mangal died instantly due to respiratory failure. We have also arrested Pol's assistant, Jyoti Mandhare (25), for abetting him in the crime," he said.
Patil said Pol's earlier victims -four women and a man -were killed in similar fashion between May 20, 2003 and June 15, 2006. "The five victims, Surekha Chikne, Vanita Gaikwad, Jagabai Pol, Nathmal Bhandari and Salma Shaikh, were all residents of Wai. Pol killed them for their cash and gold ornaments after emotionally blackmailing them. After each murder, he would summon a JCB excavator to dig the ground behind his farm on the pretext of planting coconut trees.
"He would later bury the bodies in the pits that were created," he said. The police were questioning Pol about where he had disposed of the other two bodies. He has been remanded in police custody till August 19. Pol, who lives in Wai, is married and has two sons and a daughter. The police said he holds a Bachelor of Electrohomeopathy Medicine and Surgery (BEMS) degree.