As 81-year-old Pushpaben Dhamji Bhalla walked out of her building in Dadar, she moved slowly, relying heavily on her cane for support. No doubt, she looked like an easy target to a conman lurking nearby. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
81-year-old Pushpaben. Pic/Rane Ashish
Frail as her body is, Pushpaben’s mind is still sharp as a razor, and she immediately knew something was wrong when the crook told her he was a cop. So, when he told her give her gold bangles to him for safekeeping, she gave him a few beatings from her stick instead.
Pushpaben Bhalla was exiting her society when the conman, Ali Jaffari saw her. His associates were waiting in a cab nearby. Illustrations/Uday Mohite
On Wednesday morning, it was around 10 am that Pushpaben stepped out of her residence at Landmark Tower residence on GD Ambekar Road. She didn’t have to go far; just to the Hanuman temple right outside the complex. But as soon as she came out of the society gates, a stranger approached her and said he was a policeman.
Jaffari approached the elderly woman and showed her a fake ID, claiming he was a cop in plainclothes
“Maaji, humlog Crime Branch se hai. Civil mein ghoomkar poore area ka patrolling karte hai. (We are Crime Branch officials. We patrol in civil clothes),” he told her while flashing an ID card. But the man was no cop; he was later identified as Ali Raza Aziz Jaffari (49), a resident of Ambivli.
He told her she was in an unsafe area, and that she should hand over her gold bangles for safekeeping
He told the 81-year-old that she was in a very sensitive area and should remove her gold bangles (worth around Rs 50,000) and put it in his bag. He told her that once she passed through the danger zone, he would meet her on the other end and return the ornaments to her. “I doubted his intentions from the very beginning. I asked him to leave me alone. I don’t need any protection and I can take care of myself,” Pushpaben told this reporter.
When the crook tried to force her to obey, Pushpaben gave him a thrashing with her walking stick
Then she noticed that Jaffari was not alone, two more associates were waiting for him inside a taxi parked close by. “He was trying to convince me again and again. When I refused, he got agitated and even tried to force me to obey. But I was adamant and refused to follow his orders. When he tried to grab my hand, I hit him hard, three to four times, with my walking stick,” she recounted.
Passers-by saw the struggle and came to her aid. Jaffari’s associates fled, but he was arrested
A vegetable vendor heard the scuffle from the other side of the road and rushed to help the old woman. Soon, pedestrians also stopped and asked what was happening. “The accused was baffled. He realised that he had made a huge mistake. But before he could escape, the crowd overpowered him and called the police,” said a cop from RAK Marg police.
After all the excitement of the morning, Pushpaben was slightly disappointed that she still had to part with her gold bangles, which is now with the real police. “Why did they take my bangles? When will I get them back?” she asked this reporter when he visited her house yesterday.
Asked whether the incident had made her fearful of stepping out, she said, “I am not scared at all. If this happens again, I will do the same thing again – hit the crooks with my stick.”
Senior Police Inspector Siddharth Kasbe from RAK Marg police station said, “Pushpaben is an example for other women who fall prey to such fake cops. Despite her age, she caught hold of the accused and got him arrested.”
Her son Harender Bhalla (57), who runs a restaurant, said, “My mother has made us proud. She is a true inspiration for others. I cannot believe what she has done today.”
His wife, Jasmine (57), added, “ She has never raised her hands on her son, or grandchildren. I am amazed by her daredevil attitude. Soon after the incident, when we were called to the police station, she saw the accused and started walking towards him to slap him, but managed to stop her.”