TV actor and model Neeral Bhardwaj (20), who was killed last Friday after a speeding Honda City rammed into her at JVPD traffic signal, was being teased by the vehicle’s occupants prior to the accident, some witnesses have claimed. Cops are now waiting for CCTV footage from the vicinity to substantiate the sequence of events. MiD DAY had reported the mishap on September 8 (‘Car crushes model at JVPD’).
According to police, Neeral left from her PG accommodation in Lokhandwala at about 7 in the morning. Around 7.30 am, she spoke to her mother Mamta over the phone while travelling in an auto rickshaw. Neeral told her mother she was going to meet a relative at Vile Parle. When she mentioned she hadn’t had breakfast, Mamta scolded her and asked her to eat something. That’s why Neeral got out of the auto rickshaw at JVPD. “The incident must have taken place when she got down to have her breakfast,” said Mamta.
The harassment episode came to light when the driver of a Mahindra XUV —, which the accused had also collided with — was called for questioning. He told cops that his car had received minor scratches and since he was in a hurry to get to the airport he didn’t wait for long. But he says he thinks the people in the car were teasing a girl standing on the roadside.
Cops say two witnesses — local vendors — have informed them that the people inside the car were teasing the girl while driving past her. The car then came back at top speed, and the driver lost control of the vehicle, hit the girl, and then crashed into an electric pole. Police are now focussing on this angle, but say it has to be verified with video evidence as and when it becomes available.
According to cops, the grey Honda City was being driven by Purvesh Ramchandra Patkar (25). Patkar is an employee of a private bank and was returning home after attending a party. He tried to flee after the mishap but was caught by locals and handed over to DN Nagar police.
Kamlesh Patidar, a friend of the deceased, said, “It seems the accused did harass Neeral as she was standing there alone. I just want the culprits to be behind the bars and should be arrested. Neeral will not come back, but a warning must be sent out to others.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone IX) Pratap Dighavkar said the case is being investigated from every angle. “Two witnesses have come forward, and we will be verifying their statements about the harassment. The moment the CCTV footage arrives, the facts will become apparent,” he told MiD DAY.