Duped of Rs 13 cr, man goes on hunger strike against cops at Azad Maidan

Over a month has passed since he complained to the police about being duped of R13 crore but the cops have not arrested the accused or returned the money they seized; the senior citizen says he is penniless and will fast until he gets justice

Mumbai is fast becoming no city for the elderly. This 82-year-old Churchgate resident, who was cheated by three people of around Rs 13 crore, is now on a hunger strike. His demands — to get back the money the cops have seized and also that the accused be arrested. He also wants to meet the police commissioner.

Shahban Thanawala is on a hunger strike at Azad Maidan. Pic/Atul Kamble
Shahban Thanawala is on a hunger strike at Azad Maidan. Pic/Atul Kamble

Shahban Thanawala started his hunger strike at Azad Maidan on Friday. The senior citizen has to consume 15 medications a day, but he has given up even that due to the hunger strike. mid-day had carried an article on August 22, on how Shahban had allegedly been cheated by his late brother’s servants and accountant of Rs 13 crore and over 150 tolas of gold.

He currently stays at Roxana building in Churchgate, and has no one to look after him. The FIR was filed on August 5, but the cops have still not made arrests or returned the money they had seized from the accused — the servants, Yusuf Patel (65) and his son Minu (35), and the family accountant, Behram Pardiwala (60).

Shahban is now receiving death threats. He said, “On September 12, when I went to my Grant Road house, two bike-borne people approached me. They threatened to kill me unless I took the case back. My condition has become worse; I have no money left at all for my daily needs.

No money to buy food and medicine. At this age, anything can happen to me any time; what about my medical expenses? I am begging for money from people, friends, relatives and the Jamat, but how long will they help me? Don’t I have the right to live happily?”

Shahban said, “On August 5, an FIR was filed by the Azad Maidan police after the court’s order. I had first approached the court in the end of June.” His advocate Vinod Kashid said that Shahban was taken to meet the police commissioner last afternoon but did not get to meet him, eventually.

Shahban added, “I want justice before I die. Can’t I even stay the way I want for the few years I have left? Three months have passed but the accused have not been arrested and no money has been given back. The cops have seized over Rs 10 crore but I have not been given the money. I have no options left, no place to go; I wish I die soon.”

When asked if the hunger strike would affect his health, Shahban said, “What else can I do, I am dying in any case. I live in constant fear that someone will come and kill me. Is this any city for old people?” He added, “I have several health problems; a heart ailment, blood pressure, kidney problem and diabetes. Doctors have given me several medicines to consume lifelong, but I can’t even take the medicines.

I don’t have a single penny.” His advocate Kashid added, “If anything happens to Shahban, then cops will be responsible for it. The cops are not even giving the money recovered, saying the investigation is on, but nothing has been done by them so far.” The concerned police officials said they could not comment as they were on bandobast duty for the ongoing Ganeshostav festivities.

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