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The Joshi-Abhyankar Serial Murders: 4 Dangerous Friends Turned Serial Killers Threatened Entire Pune

The Joshi-Abhyankar Serial Murders: 4 Dangerous Friends Turned Serial Killers Threatened Entire Pune

The lovely city of Pune in India has a relatively quiet past, similar to vibes. Most of the people of the country often joke and consider the city to be a resting place after their retirement. This is because everything one finds in the city is very relaxing, making one feel lazy.

Most parts of Pune have been golden apart from the years 1976-1977 when things got dark and gory. The fearsome Joshi-Abhyankar serial murders have almost disappeared within the pages of history.

Though very few of our generation have heard of these gruesome stories, yet it plays a significant part of our past. Ten lives were lost that made the entire city to shiver in fright. What exactly happened?


Four men were studying at the Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya in Pune as students of commercial art – Rajendra Jakkal, Dilip Sutar, Shantaram Kanhoji Jagtap, and Munawar Harun Shah. These four friends were the people behind 10 serial killings, after already being infamously known in their college institute campus for robberies and their drinking. The four, for the first time, along with another student and friend in their college, Suhas Chandak decided to kidnap one of their classmates to ask his father for ransom – the father ran a hotel behind the college, Hotel Vishwa.

On 15 January 1976, the five kidnapped one of their classmates, Prakash Hegde, took him over to Jakkal’s tin shed at Karve Road and forcefully made him write a note to his father, Sundar Hegde.

The next day, Prakash was gagged and taken to Peshwe Park and strangled with a nylon rope by the four, plus Suhas. His body was then inserted into an iron barrel with some stoned and dumped into the lake at the park. This was the gang’s first crime. The second crime took place in August later that year, when the gang of four, without Suhas, moved to Kolhapur and failed at a robbery attempt at the house of a local businessman. The third was one of their biggest. Two months after the failed robbery, the group of four once again tried their hand at a theft. The men broke into a house in Vijaynagar Colony, where they stayed the Joshi family – Achyut and Usha, with their teenage son Anand.

Only the couples were at home. They were tied up and strangled Achyut with nylon rope and suffocated his wife, Usha. When teenage Anand returned home, he was stripped naked and strangled him with a nylon rope. They robbed a watch, a mangalsutra and thousands of rupees and left the house. In the same year, on 22nd November, they once again attempted to rob an entire house on Shankarseth Road, owned by Yashomiti Bafana. Still, they were fought off by her and her two loyal servants. The four men escaped this time around as well. Next came their worst crime out of all, an attempt at a robbery where they murdered an entire family as well as the domestic worker of their house.

On 1st December, Jakkal, Sutar, Kanhoji, and Shah broke into a bungalow on Bhandarkar Road belonging to the Abhyankar family, which consisted of 88 and 76-year-old Kashinath Shastri and his wife Indirabai, their 21 and 19-year-old grandchildren Jai and Dhananjay, respectively. Their domestic help aged 60, Sakubai Wagh. The gang entered through the main door when Dhananjay opened the door for them after they rang the bell. The first thing that the gang did was stuff the young man’s mouth, tie him up, and force him to take them inside.

The entire family was killed one by one, strangled with nylon ropes after stuffing their mouths with a cloth. The granddaughter Jai was killed last, after being stripped naked and forced to direct the gang to where the valuables of the house were kept. Even till now, the police didn’t quite have any bright ideas that this could be a serial killer at work; all that was assumed by the police was that the deaths were simply a result of robberies that went wrong. This was until the sixth and final murder victim emerged.

Anil Gokhale was murdered by the four college students on 23rd March 1977. He was to meet his brother, a student at Abhinav. On the false pretense of giving him a ride till wherever he had to go, Jakkal took him on his motorcycle to his shed. He, too, was strangled with nylon rope and his body dumped into the Mula-Mutha river. On the 24th of March 1977, the body of Anil Gokhale came floating on the Mula-Mutha river close to Yerwada. During investigations, the police noticed the way the nylon rope was used to tie Gokhale’s body up, and they connected this to previous murders that they had simply assumed to be robberies that had gone wrong.

The method used to tie the rope as well as the type of rope that was used was similar to the same of previous murders, and this is how the police caught on to the group of Jakkal, Sutar, Kanhoji,

and Shah, with the help of the common nylon ropes that they used.

It was found during the police investigation that the strangulation technique used for all these murders, as well as a specific type of knot tied, was signature to the group.


After their capture, during interrogations, all four of them ended up telling different stories to the police regarding their whereabouts of the previous week. Different people they knew, including a colleague of the culprits’ Satish Gore, revealed the location of the body of Prakash Hegde (the first victim of the group’s) as well as the details of his murder during his interrogation. The group’s accomplice to the first murder, Suhas Chandak, also revealed information about Hegde’s murder to the police. The four were sentenced to death by the Pune Sessions Court.

Although they tried to appeal to the Bombay High Court, the Supreme Court of India, and even asked for a Presidential pardon, nothing worked out in their favor. The four accused were hanged in Yerwada Central Jail on 27th November 1983. When it was revealed that the atrocious murderers were trying to escape from their sentence, the Punekars (city dwellers) took a stand. Shedding aside every barrier of community and political ideology, they joined hands and about 1000 Punekars signed on a joint note addressing the Supreme Court in Delhi. This proved instrumental in the criminals not getting their case reviewed by the Supreme Court. However, the case still dragged on because the accused kept the jury distracting with several goodwills, including wishing for organ donation and other religious causes.

Death Sentence:

Further instigation of the enraged citizens, the murderers appeared in the front of the court, stating “death by snooze” was a painful form of death, and they should be subjected to the electric chair. Once again, the Punekars rose to action and gained signatures from ten leading doctors across the country, who unanimously agreed that death by hanging is the least painful of all terminal deaths. After six and a half years of opening the case, the accused were hanged to death.

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