According to preliminary reports, a team of Pune police crime branch led by Inspector Satish Govekar picked up Raut in Delhi on a tip-off. The preliminary reports said Raut worked in the national capital as a washerman and lived at a dhobi ghat. The police team has already left Delhi with Raut and is expected to reach Pune by Friday evening.
Senior police officers, however, were too cautious to confirm the arrest of Raut. "Indeed our team has taken a man in custody and we suspect he is Raut. But we cannot be sure about his identity till he is brought to Pune," an officer from the Pune police crime branch said.
Pujari, an employee of Synechron, a software company in Kharadi, was found raped and murdered in Zarewadi forest area in Rajgurunagar, Khed, about 50 km from Pune, on October 8, 2009.
The Khed police had registered a case against unknown persons, but had later transferred the case to the Yerawada police as Pujari had gone missing from Kharadi, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Yerawada police.
Yogesh Raut (24), Rajesh Chaudhary (23) and Mahesh Thakur (24), all from Khed and Vishal Kadam (26) of Satara were arrested in connection with the case. Chaudhary had later turned approver. A chargesheet against them was filed on January 12, 2010.
Raut, who was main accused in the case, had escaped from Sassoon hospital on September 17, 2011, while in police custody. He had been brought to the hospital from Yerawada central jail and escaped after police naik Sumersingh Sursingh Patil removed his handcuffs when he went to the toilet at 2 pm. Patil was dismissed from service after the incident.
At the time of his disappearance, Raut was on trial for the Pujari murder case as well as a case involving the kidnapping and murder of vegetable vendor Vishaka Mandal.
The Pujari case trial against Raut is pending before the court. Pujari's husband Abhijit is scheduled to depose in the court on Saturday.