Vishal Taware, 29, was a Dombivli resident who objected to the water supply in their chawl being disconnected for over 40 days in an alleged political ploy to make them relocate from the area and free it up for construction. He paid for it with his life, when on Friday, under the guise of getting him to settle the matter, the six accused, including a local builder, assaulted him and left him for dead. By the time he reached the hospital, he was declared dead on arrival.
However, the Taware family's trauma did not end there. When they went to the Manpada police to lodge a complaint, they were turned away and threatened they will be 'thrown out of their homes'. It was only when Vishal's cousin Sanjay uploaded a video on Facebook, calling out the police for their inaction, did they register a complaint.
Root of the feud
According to the police, the Taware family lives in the Balaji Chawl at Kole Gaon and had been facing water trouble for over 40 days. Sanjay has alleged that the disconnection was carried out by local builder Pandarinath Patil, who owns a plot of land adjoining the chawl that he wanted to begin construction on, but needed the chawl to be vacated. "The police, Patil, along with the local independent corporator and her husband carried out the water disconnection," he said.
However, Vishal, who works as a driver with a private firm and has a 4-year-old daughter and an 18-month-old son, wouldn't let it go without a fight. So he went to the corporation office to file a complaint, but was stalled by bureaucracy.
Sunny Lambha, one of Vishal's friends, said, "When Vishal complained to the KDMC, he realised that the corporator, Shailaja Bhoir, was hand-in-glove with the builder. He later approached the local media, who then raised the issue."
He added that when the accused realised that Vishal could be a thorn in their side, on Thursday night, they called him in to settle the matter quietly, but since he wasn't around, his cousin Subhash went instead.
"When Vishal came to know that Subhash had gone in his stead, he followed him and found that he had been assaulted. When Vishal came, they left Subhash and began assaulting him instead. We then reached the spot and rushed him to a hospital, as he had suffered heavy wounds. After the X-ray exam was carried out, he came out of the room and collapsed. The doctors then suggested we shift him to some good hospital, but when we got there, they declared him dead on arrival," Sunny said.
Sanjay then approached the Manpada police to register the complaint against the Patils, but was turned away.
He immediately uploaded a video on Facebook where he said, "After Vishal's death, when we approached the local police, they threatened us of throwing us out from our house."
He went on to allege that the police had been bribed by the Patils to prevent them from filing a complaint. However, after the video surfaced, the police registered a complaint against six people, including Pandarinath Patil and his son Samir. They were also arrested. Three of the accused are absconding. However, Sanjay added, "Even though the local corporator and her husband were also involved, they were not been booked; this shows the true motive of the police."
The other side
When contacted, corporator Shailaja Bhoir said, "My husband and I are not involved in any such case and if the police needs us for investigation, we will be happy to cooperate with them. These allegations against us are baseless."
Meanwhile, Gajanan Kabdule, senior police inspector, Manpada police station, who has been accused of turning away the Tawares before filing a complaint under public pressure didn't respond to mid-day's calls or messages, despite repeated attempts.
No of tenants in the Balaji Chawl
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