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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Hero Policeman Remembered For The Arrest Of A Notorious Serial Killer

India reflects on a reign of terror brought to an end by Alex Fialho

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
I am a mumbai based journalist having worked with many daily newspapers.

INDIA. Mumbai: The infamous psychopath and serial killer Raman Raghav, who unleashed terror in Mumbai in the 1960s, was remembered with the passing away of retired police officer Alex Fialho.

Fialho was a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) who died of a heart attack on 13 Nov. at his residence in South Mumbai at the age of 92. He is survived by his wife, sons, daughter, and grandchildren. His last rites were performed at St. Andrews Church in suburban Bandra, in presence of family members.

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Fialho solved many important cases, but the arrest of Raghav during his reign of terror was the most remarkable. He was awarded the Presidential Police Medal along with a cash reward of Rs 1,000.

Remembering a hero and a villain

In an interview with Transcontinental Times, retired Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Nagesh Raykar said that he was junior when Fialho was on active duty. “We used to look at him as a role model,” Raykar said. Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Sanjay Mohite said that he never worked with with Fialho, but knew him to be skillful in solving cases.

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The killer Raghav, who was once described as worse than the Boston Strangler, was actively targeting victims in Mumbai between 1966 and 1968. He bludgeoned nearly 41 people to death, mostly hutment dwellers. Raghav used to kill his victims with a blunt force object while they were asleep.

In those days, Mumbai had mostly 2 to 3-floor houses, chawls, and shanties. The people were so scared, they stopped sleeping on their verandas at night. The police deployed a squad comprising one sub-inspector, 20 constables, and a sniffer dog to handle night patrols.

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While a nationwide hunt was under way, Commissioner Modak formed a special team led by Police Inspector Vinayakrao Vakatkar to crack the case. Fialho was a member of this team.

Arrested on Ganesh Chaturthi

Public outcry had reached a fever pitch. The police were tense on 26 Aug. 1968, since the next day was Ganesh Chaturthi, Maharashtra’s most important festival.

The next day, Fialho was on a routine patrol and spotted Raghav near Bhendi Bazar. He was wearing a blue shirt and khaki pants with an umbrella in his hand. He had attacked Mangla Dalvi in Kandivali just two days before. Fortunately, Dalvi escaped and survived. Her description of Raghav was passed on to all police stations.

Fialho, who was had the photograph of Raghav, accosted him and asked his name. Raghav replied, “Sindhi Dalwai.” Fialho asked why the Raghav’s umbrella was wet since it was dry in Bhendi Bazar. The suspect said that he had been to Malad in the Northern suburbs, where it was raining heavily for the last two days.

This created more suspicion since the killer was last spotted in Malad. Fialho took him to police headquarters in the Crawford Market area. During interrogation, Raghav identified himself again as, “Sindhi Dalvai.” It came to light that this was one of his aliases. Fingerprint experts confirmed his identity and the police finally had the nation’s most wanted man in custody.

The news of Raghav’s arrest spread like wildfire. The All India Radio station interrupted their program to relay the news and the country sighed in relief. Fialho became a national hero.

A divided judgement

After initial trials, the Sessions Court awarded the death penalty to Raghav. The medical board that examined him diagnosed his condition as paranoid schizophrenia. After hearing, a division bench comprising justices R A Jahagirdar and A D Tated at the Bombay High Court delivered the final judgment on 10 Aug. 1987. Justice Tated confirmed the death penalty, while Justice Jahagirdar awarded life imprisonment. Raghav was sent to Yerawada jail and after serving a term of about 8 years, he died of kidney failure at Sassoon General Hospital in 1995.

Fialho was promoted to senior police inspector and then assistant commissioner of police in the Colaba division.

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