Mumbai: The probe into two separate instances of murder of citizens from Delhi here has revealed that former gangster and prime accused Vijay Palande used his model wife Simran Sood as a 'honeytrap' to commit the crimes for usurping properties of the victims, police said.

"It has now emerged that Simran Sood is not Vijay Palande's friend but his wife. Both married in year 1998 or 1999. After the marriage, Palande was involved in a crime and was behind the bars for a few years. After he was freed, he started using his wife to trap victims for money and property," said a crime branch official.

Palande, formerly a gangster working for underworld don Santosh Shetty, along with his aides Dhananjay Shinde and Manoj Gajkosh, was apprehended by Crime Branch officials on April 11 in connection with the April 7 murder of Delhi-based businessman Arunkumar Tikku (67). Palande had befriended the victim's actor son Anuj Tikku with a motive to acquire his plush apartment in upscale Lokhandwala Complex, police had said.

After their arrest, the trio were taken into custody by Oshiwara police where the case was registered.

Simran Sood, who hails from Punjab, was arrested by Amboli police on April 12 in connection with the abduction and murder of Delhi-based aspiring producer Karankumar Kakkad (28). At the time of her arrest, Simran had claimed she was 28 years old though it was later turned out that she was 38, police said.

In both the cases, Simran introduced Palande as her "brother" to Anuj and Karankumar, police said.
Palande had allegedly hatched the conspiracy to kill Anuj's father Arunkumar and Kakkad.  Probe into Kakkad's murder has revealed that Palande, along with Shinde and Gajkosh, first murdered the aspiring film producer at the latter's rented residence in suburban Amboli on the night of March 6 and then chopped his body into pieces.

According to Palande, Kakkad's remains were then taken to Kumbharli Ghat near Chiplun in a BMW car and disposed of. The accused then drove to Pune where they abandoned the vehicle, police said. Amboli police had initially registered a missing person's report on a complaint by Kakkad's brother Aneesh who is a real estate agent.

The complaint was later converted into the case of abduction and murder as the investigations progressed. According to police, Palande met Simran while he was working at the Copper Chimney restaurant in suburban Juhu. "As their friendship grew, they decided to marry," the source said.

Palande had also married to a German national a few years ago, police said, adding "we are verifying if Simran had knowledge that Palande was married to the German lady who is currently not in India." Both Palande and Simran are at present in the custody of Crime Branch.