Matilda Quadros sits on a silent vigil at home, next to the coffin of her 20-year-old son Steven. A small signboard put up at the entrance of the colony reads, “Funeral postponed till further notice.” Steven was found dead under mysterious circumstances at Vasai railway station on Sunday evening. His family has alleged that the friends he had gone out with that fateful day murdered him.
According to the police, Steven is Matilda’s only child. His father passed away when he was three years old. The deceased was working on an ONGC oilrig and had come to his Chapel Road home in Bandra on leave. “On Saturday, Steven was partying with four friends Reese Valladares, Tanvi Sharma, Shaleen Fernandes, and Allwin Jude and in a drunken state they were trying to cross tracks. At this time a train hit Steven and he died in Ravi hospital early next morning. Allwin too got injured and is admitted at the same institute,” said PS Bhangare, inspector (crime), Vasai division.
At 8.10 pm on April 27, the deceased’s friend Russel got a message from Shaleen that Steven had had an accident and was admitted in a hospital. Around the same time, Matilda got a call saying that her son had died in a train mishap. Steven’s relatives rushed to Vasai along with some of his friends from the colony. But when they saw his body, they found his injuries to be highly suspicious.
“For one thing, Steven had a black eye. How does one get a black eye from being run over by a train? There was also an injury on his head that was consistent with being hit by a heavy object. That was when we smelt a rat. We later learnt that there was an ongoing dispute between Allwin and Steven, and our doubts deepened. However, the railway cops at Vasai refused to file a complaint. They also made us go to the Bhayander railway police,” said Russel.
Sources say Reese, Tanvi and Shaleen told the police that they had gone towards the railway station to answer nature’s call. However, cops are sceptical about this since Steven’s body was lying about two kilometres away from the station.
“We have detained the four friends of the deceased for questioning and are investigating the case. Steven’s family members are accusing cops of being biased and they are claiming that it’s a murder. We have registered a case of accidental death, and have handed over the body to the family after post mortem, which said the deceased was hit on left side by a train and he died because of internal injuries,” added Bhangare.
Some friends of Steven have alleged that Allwin and Shaleen were in a relationship, and Allwin was angry at Steven’s closeness to her, which may have led to the murder. The news of Steven’s death sparked off outrage in the entire colony, and several women stormed into Shaleen’s house demanding to know the truth. Shaleen, who was in tears, kept repeating that there was no wrongdoing. However, yesterday evening, Matilda claimed that Shaleen had confessed that there had been an argument between Allwin and Steven.
“When we asked the cops to hand over the post-mortem report to us, they refused. We have demanded that a second autopsy be done, because Steven’s friend said that they were drunk, while the police did not conduct proper blood tests for the presence of alcohol,” said a family friend. “As per the family’s wishes we are preparing to carry out another post mortem at JJ hospital,” said a police official.