Murders Most Foul: Inside Mumbai Killer Vijay Palande’s Mind

With links to Bollywood and cricketers, Vijay Palande and his accomplice Simrin Sood made headlines in 2012.

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In 2012, Vijay Palande and Simrin Sood’s names made headlines across Mumbai’s tabloids, the national dailies couldn’t afford to ignore them either. An alleged cold blooded murderer and his glamorous accomplice - lead the city’s cops to dig out remains of dead bodies which were disposed off along the ravines of the Western Ghats on the outskirts of Mumbai.


The Mumbai press dubbed Palande as a “mastermind” who after being convicted for a double murder escaped while on parole and went to Thailand to get a plastic surgery done and assume a new identity. Since then, Palande’s reported victims include an aspiring Bollywood producer, Karan Kakkar, and Arun Tikku, father of a character actor from the film industry. It is said that Simrin’s role in Palande’s depraved plans was often to lure unsuspecting well-off men into their trap.

With links to  Bollywood and cricketers, Vijay Palande and his accomplice Simrin Sood made headlines in 2012.
Alleged serial killer Vijay Palande at the Kumbharli Ghat with Crime Branch officers after a human skull was retrieved. (Photo courtesy: Puja Changoiwala)

The new book The Front Page Murders by journalist Puja Changoiwala delves deep into the murders planned and executed by Palande over years, his links with the Mumbai film industry and underworld, his arrest and the media coverage of the entire episode.

All this, besides a peek into the Palande’s mind, who is described as - “a cold-blooded killer equipped with the sophistication of Charles Sobhraj, the manipulative genius of Ted Bundy and the cruelty of Jack the Ripper”.

Here are a few excerpts from the book:


In 1995, Simrin visited Mumbai for a dance competition and never returned. She believed the city could help her make it big, get her the fame and celebrity she coveted. So she stayed in Mumbai with dreams of Bollywood, and here, she met Vijay Palande and the two fell in love.

‘But it wasn’t an ordinary love story. It was Bonnie meeting Clyde, Babli meeting Bunty,’ a journalist told me. ‘They decided to hide their relationship, feign avatars as necessary and use Simrin as bait to lure their victims. And she was good at her job. She gave up her identity and assumed a fake one – Simrin Sood. She also underwent cosmetic surgeries. To some, she was a model with big connections. To some, she was an entrepreneur from Dubai. To some, she was an aspiring actor from Delhi.’

In April 1998, Simrin went to visit her parents, and introduced them to her friend Vijay Palande. She insisted on getting married to him. Although her family was opposed to the marriage, they eventually gave in to her. ‘Simrin would often visit home following their marriage. But Vijay never accompanied her. When asked, she would say he was away for business. She visited us last in November 2011. We believed she was settled until we learnt about her arrest in the newspapers,’ her shocked father told the police.

With links to  Bollywood and cricketers, Vijay Palande and his accomplice Simrin Sood made headlines in 2012.
Simrin Sood’s photo shoot. (Photo courtesy: Twitter)

When I asked Anuj Tikku what he thought about Simrin, he said, ‘She was a crass version of Pulp Fiction’s Uma Thurman – like a gun moll, but not a classy one. She would dress provocatively, would snort cocaine. She was seductive, enticing, the perfect trap. But her English wasn’t too good. The moment she started talking, you would know that all of her was fake.’

Palande’s family, meanwhile, blames the femme fatale for his crimes. His sister told the police, ‘I developed a dislike for that woman almost instantly when Vijay brought her to visit us, and we shared cold vibes throughout her stay. We just couldn’t accept her in our family – she was so different. She made it obvious that she was being forced by Vijay to visit us. Somehow, I got a feeling that this woman will land Vijay in a huge spot of bother. I tried to warn Vijay about her, but he laughed off my concerns. Vijay’s life and his temperament changed under Simrin’s influence. We believe he got involved in crime after Simrin came into his life – and now, she has ruined his life.’

But Simrin wasn’t Palande’s only wife. Palande was also said to have married German national Nives Ligensa, who Anuj Tikku had leased his apartment to, and Simrin was in the know about this relationship. Cops called it a ‘marriage of convenience’ – Simrin allowed the second relationship since Palande was taking care of her financial needs. ‘She was an ambitious girl whose aspirations led her astray,’ an investigating officer told me.

When I asked Palande about his two wives during one of our interactions, he laughed. ‘I don’t have two wives. I have four. The cops are saying two. But I have four. What to do? If I go to USA, goddammit, I need somebody to cook for me. So I have a wife in the US, one in Germany, a girlfriend cum wife in Bangkok, and Simrin. I also have kids, but don’t ask me how many and where.’ When I asked him if managing four women was difficult, he laughed again. ‘No,’ he said, ‘Different countries, so different time zones, na. When I’m with one wife, the other three are sleeping.’


Here’s an excerpt which describes Vijay Palande’s interaction with Additional Commissioner of Mumbai Police, Deven Bharti and gives you an idea of the way in which Palande’s mind works.

‘You are Mr Deven Bharati, right?’ Palande asked the Crime Branch supremo, his tone adulatory, as though he was a fan speaking to a superstar.

‘Yes,’ replied Bharati, a little surprised.

‘I’ve seen you on television, sir. I’ve heard so much about your work. We are proud of officers like you,’ Palande said. Bharati was astonished at the confident words, at this murderer’s relaxed demeanour. He had encountered criminals who run away when apprehended, assault, even kill. But lavishing compliments was new.

‘I have nothing to do with this murder, sir. I am being framed. I am a businessman, sir, not a criminal, definitely not worthy of this massive manhunt, and definitely not worthy of keeping you at work this late,’ Palande told Bharati in flawless English.

The additional commissioner was now suspicious. ‘The murderer is engaging me in small talk so he can strike,’ he reasoned. They were standing too close. Bharati kept a close watch on Palande’s movements, especially his hands to ensure that they were not reaching out for a weapon. But Palande’s palms were raised close to his chest; he used them to indicate surrender.

The officer said Palande made sure he spoke in a sophisticated, assured manner. He did not lose his cool, and his confident eyes stared straight into the officer’s when he spoke. Bharati could tell that Palande had a way with words – smooth, convincing words that Anuj had fallen for, that he had lost his father to. The additional commissioner realized that the man couldn’t be arrested with force, that the cops would have to use his weapon of choice – words.

‘So I started speaking to him just as politely. I tried to convince him that no harm would come to him even if we took him in custody, and that he was needed only for investigations. But he wasn’t convinced. He could see the future – his guilt made him see it. And he knew we wouldn’t let him get away, not this time. So he tried to strike a deal,’ said Bharati.

‘Let me go, sir. And as a thank you, I’ll bring you gangster Chhota Rajan,’ Palande told the additional commissioner.

‘I was stunned,’ Bharati said. ‘Rajan, as you know, is one of the country’s most wanted men, one of our most hunted dons. And this man offered to bring him to me if I let him go. I was amazed at how well he knew how cops work, what works with them. Any officer would be tempted to let him go in exchange for Rajan. I politely declined, and as a final resort, he started boasting about his connections with the rich, the famous and the influential, that all it took was one phone call for them to be available for him.’

Title: The Front Page Murders
Author: Puja Changoiwala
Pages: 322
Price: Rs 350
Published by: Hachette India

(Excerpts used with permission from the publisher)

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