Bandra bungalow dispute: 100-plus-strong mob lured by WhatsApp 'job'

Many from the 100-plus-strong mob that entered B-62 bungalow last month and threatened its residents, were college students lured by a message promising a security guard’s job at Rs 12,000 a month

Investigations in last month’s incident of a mob threatening the occupants of a Bandra bungalow have revealed that several of the arrested youths had gathered at the spot after being lured with a promise of a job with a Rs 12,000 monthly salary.

The B-62 bungalow on Pali Hill is involved in a tenancy dispute and cases are going on both in the city civil court and High Court. File pics
The B-62 bungalow on Pali Hill is involved in a tenancy dispute and cases are going on both in the city civil court and High Court. File pics

Many of those arrested are youngsters from poor families, who are now stuck in Arthur Road jail, because they don’t have the means to post their bail amounts. On June 10, a mob of nearly 100 people had allegedly gathered at the B-62 bungalow, situated on Zig Zag Road in Pali Hill. (Read the full story here)

The Ansaris had told mid-day that they had been threatened to leave the house 35 years ago as well
The Ansaris had told mid-day that they had been threatened to leave the house 35 years ago as well

The hooligans allegedly threatened 80-year-old Dulcene Ansari, asking her and her family to leave the bungalow. Dulcene was then with her six-year-old grandchild Rafael, while Rafael’s mother, Minaz (39), had gone to drop her elder son Rhyan (9) to karate class.

When Minaz returned, she found that the goons were misbehaving with her mother-in-law. It was only after Minaz called up the police and they arrived on the scene and arrested 26 people that the family got some relief. The police booked the accused for molestation, dacoity, rioting, and conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code.

The bungalow, a prime property on 2,250 sq ft land said to be worth Rs 100 crore, is embroiled in a tenancy dispute between the family and one builder. To this case was added a third party another builder some years ago and the cases are going on both in city civil court and the Bombay High Court.

Behind the scenes
According to the Khar police, who are investigating the case, it was a WhatsApp message circulated to local youth that had brought them in droves to the bungalow.

Police said that the third party Khatri Builders had allegedly appointed one Royston Castelino to gather a mob on the premises in order to threaten the family and take over the property. Castelino, in turn, roped in an associate, Sachin Bhansode, for the task.

A police officer said, “It was a chain of events. The builder gave a huge sum of money and made a plan to take over the property. His initial plan was to keep people at the bungalow on a 24-hour basis, forcing the tenants to move out.” An officer from Khar police station said, “Bhansode started approaching his friends and circulated a message on WhatsApp.

The message offered a job on a day-night shift at a posh bungalow next to the sea at Pali Hill in Bandra, claiming to pay Rs 12,000 a month along with food. Many youths who are currently in our custody were lured by the offer, since they belong to poor families.”

These youths are college boys, who jumped at the opportunity of earning a decent sum for a part-time job. The message was passed on from one person to another, reaching over 80 people from Mahim to Virar, the officer added.

Black mark
One such teenager is Jitesh Parab, a Mahim resident who had just cleared Std XII and has applied to colleges. His mother Veena told mid-day, “We are very poor, so we thought my son would study in the day and work at the bungalow at night.

Since the place is also close to our house, we decided to send him for the job. We thought Rs 12,000 a month would have been a good amount for the family. We didn’t know about this plan at all. When the cops arrived, my son was just sitting at the bungalow. He didn’t even run away.”

Two other youths, Atul Tiwari and Rajesh Banger, both 19, residents of Malad, and students of a Kandivli-based college also find themselves in jail. A police officer added, “Half of the people were not aware of the plan; they got into this just to earn some money. They do not even have any criminal background, while Castelino and Bhansode are on-record criminals.

This dacoity case will remain a black mark on the students for life.” The young accused are lodged in Arthur Road jail, unable to post the bail amounts after having been granted bail. Parab’s mother said, “We can’t pay such a huge sum. Why will my son go for a Rs 12,000 per month job, otherwise?”

Cop speak
The Khar police said they are bound by law to arrest the accused, since they were found on the spot trying to encroach upon the property. “We have arrested them on the basis of circumstantial evidence. The rest is part of our investigation. More arrests are likely to follow,” said Police Inspector Dnyaneshwar Ganore, from Khar police station.

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