A week after an elderly couple was thrashed for raising their voice against an illegal hawker, a senior citizen and his neighbour met with a similar fate near Mehboob studios in Bandra (W) yesterday, the first day of the Mount Mary fair.
The incident took place at 10.15 am, when 66-year-old Benedict Soares, a resident from the area, stepped out to view the BMC’s encroachment department razing three illegal stalls near his residence. While making his way back, after the removal van had left, six individuals assaulted Soares because they believed he had lodged a complaint against their makeshift stall, set up for the week-long fair.
The group also attacked Soares’s neighbour 56-year-old Ramesh Gurav who had intervened to stop the fight after watching Soares getting beaten up. Ramesh suffered serious injuries to his head. On August 24, Soares had written a latter to the civic body (copy with MiD DAY), reminding them that as per a 2012 court order only stalls selling religious paraphernalia should be allowed to operate from Mount Mary road to Hill Road junction, near Goodluck Hotel.
An FIR was later registered against Ravi Gurav, Deepak Gurav and Pranali Gurav under Sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) of the Indian Penal Code. Police sub inspector Belkhede said, “We arrested two of the accused at 2 pm. They will be presented in court today.”
According to Soares, he was having a word with the secretaries of a few neighbouring buildings, discussing plans to prevent outsiders from parking their cars during the fair in the lane that leads to their building entrances. While they were in conversation, a BMC van arrived to remove illegal stalls put up in the no-hawking zone.
“As I saw the vehicle, I realised they were there to pick up the illegal stalls and I proceeded to take a look. As I was returning, three women who were later joined by their respective husbands assaulted me,” said Soares.
Seeing Soares getting beaten up, Ramesh who was passing by mediated with the hope of stopping the attackers. But, they turned their wrath towards Ramesh, hitting him on the head with a stone. He was immediately rushed to Bhabha Hospital where received seven stitches. “I was passing by when I saw them beating up Benedict. I tried to stop them but they began hitting me. One of them hit me on my head with a stone after which I had to be hospitalised.” Despite repeated attempts, P Sapkale, assistant municipal commissioner, who is in charge of H -west ward, was unavailable for comment.
The other side
Speaking on behalf of the accused, Advocate Desmond D’souza said, “When the BMC van came to raze the illegal stalls, the accused said they saw Soares pointing out to their stall, indicating to the civic officials to pull down the stall. As a natural reaction towards someone who is trying to ruin their business, they confronted Soares and Ramesh. The actions taken by the accused was not done in a legal way and could have been handled better.”
Last Sunday, a hawker at the Bandstand promenade allegedly assaulted an elderly couple from Bandra. The couple Minoo Patel (63), and his wife were out for their daily walk when they objected to the hawker selling corn on the cob in a designated no-hawking zone. The woman hawker had threatened Minoo with a knife. A complaint was later registered at Bandra police station the same evening.