'I let them in as they claimed they had prasad from guruji'

Crimes against senior citizens in the city show no signs of abating. In a daring daylight robbery, a senior citizen was forcibly tied down to a chair in her Thane residence yesterday, and robbed of cash and gold ornaments worth over Rs 20 lakh.

Gulabbai Pukhraj Jain (88), a widow, stays alone in her plush apartment in Suvrat building near Tembhinaka, Thane (West). Ironically, her residence is located metres away from the local crime branch office.

"I wanted to scream and raise the alarm, but could not, as I had been gagged. For over an hour, I sat tied to the chair, my mouth taped shut, and my hands tied fast. I thought I would die," recalled Jain (88), clearly shaken after the ordeal.

Gulabbai Pukhraj Jain answered the doorbell to find a young man, who
claimed he bore prasad from her guruji. She went to fetch him a glass
of water, but returned to discover that he had let an accomplice in. The
two then bound and gagged her, decamping with ornaments and cash.
Jain then dragged herself to the door, ungagged herself and raised the
alarm. illustration/jishu dev malakar

Speaking to MiD DAY, Jain recalled that between 2 and 2.30 pm yesterday, a stranger, aged between 25 and 30 years of age, rang the doorbell to her apartment. He informed her that her spiritual guide, Acharya Shree Jagatchandra Maharaj from Baroda, had sent him to deliver Prasad to her doorstep. 

"I have great faith in my guruji. Usually, vendors pass their wares through a small safety window cut into the door. But in this case, the box was too big to pass through. With no other option left, I allowed him entry inside. Once inside, the man complained of a stomach ache and asked for a glass of water. I went to fetch it, and when I returned, I realised, much to my alarm, that another man had joined the delivery boy.

At knife point
One of them threatened me at knife point, while another tied me to a chair with a rope that they had brought along," she recounted.

"They went into the bedroom, and I could see them ransacking the rooms and emptying all my valuables into a bag. Within minutes, they walked out, loaded with my valuables, shutting the door firmly behind them," she said.

"A few minutes later, I dragged myself towards the main door. After a great struggle, I managed to remove the plaster taped across my mouth. I somehow wrenched my hand free from the rope, and opened the door and screamed. My neighbours then rushed to into the apartment and helped me."

Bharat Jain, Jain's elder son who lives in a neighboring building, said, "My mother is a heart and kidney patient. We are grateful that she escaped unscathed. Her life is more precious than the stolen valuables, and we are sure that the cops will succeed in nabbing the culprits soon."

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Navpada division) said, "We are working on some vital clues and are confident of solving the case soon. It seems that the accused had done their homework before committing the crime. We have recovered the rope that was used for the crime. We have also drawn a sketch of the suspect, on the basis of details provided by the lady."

"We wanted to provide her police protection and even suggested that her sons stay with her, but she refused both our suggestions, Instead, she said she would keep a knife hereafter for her safety," said Kamble.

Preliminary investigation has revealed that the robbers escaped with cash of Rs 4 lakhs and 674 grams of gold ornaments valuing, both estimated to be over Rs 17 lakhs.

The Thane town police have released sketch of a suspect and have registered an offence under various sections of IPC and Bombay Police Act.

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