The only thing that saved Sobiya Bharmal from becoming the 15th victim of her brother’s murderous rampage was her cold, which is the reason she didn’t drink the cold drink that had been spiked with sedatives. But this is cold comfort to the 22-year-old who witnessed her brother butchering her entire family, including her infant daughter, Alfiya. Her only consolation is that her husband, Sozab, was spared as he was not part of the family gathering.
Sobiya Bharmal watched her parents, siblings and her only child – five-month-old Alfiya (inset) – be murdered on Saturday night
After she was rescued and taken to hospital, Crime Branch officers tried to soothe her, telling her not to worry, her daughter was safe. "Sobiya looked at us in anger and said 'Don’t try to fool me. I know everyone is dead. I saw the incident with my own eyes and not a single person is alive'," said an officer.
Sobiya’s husband Sozab
As was their custom, the Warekar family came together for a weekend daawat at the accused, Hasnain’s Kasarwadavli residence. On Saturday, he sent a rickshaw to pick up Sobiya, the youngest of the Warekar siblings, but told her husband to join them the next day.
After the family feasted on chicken and kebabs, Hasnain’s wife Jabin offered everyone cold drinks, unaware that they had been laced with sedatives. “Everyone had the cold drink, except Sobiya. She refused it since she had a cold. Hasnain must have not noticed this,” stated an officer who is part of the investigations.
“Sobiya said that although she hadn’t had the drink, everyone else had and they were unconscious. But she was awake and she saw her brother slitting their throats,” added the officer.
The investigators believe that if Hasnain had realised that Sobiya had not consumed the spiked drink, he would have killed her first. It was her good fortune that this did not happen. Instead, he started with the family members sleeping on the upper floor of the ground-plus-one house, quickly moving down to the ground floor, where Sobiya saw him murdering the rest. He moved towards her last, but she struggled when he tried to slit her throat. With a gash on her throat, Sobiya pushed past him and locked herself into one of the rooms.
“Mujhe bachao, muje bachao! Bhai jaan ne sab ko maar daala, wo mujhe bhi maar dalega, bachao!’ These were the screams the neighbours heard through the walls in the dead of the night.
“I was asleep when I heard the scream, so I thought it was in my dream. But when I heard the scream again, I woke my son, Altamash, up. It was 3.30 am at the time,” said the neighbour, Sahista, who is also a Warekar. The village is hub of Warekars, Konkani Muslims who have been settled there for over a century.
The neighbour’s son, Altamash (22) immediately understood who the murderer was — Bhaijaan could only have referred to Hasnain, the sole brother among the five Warekar siblings. He opened his door with trepidation, to check whether Hasnain was there. He then moved closer to Hasnain’s house and what he saw through the window shocked him.
“I saw two dead bodies in a pool of blood. I also saw that Hasnain had hanged himself. I began knocking on the neighbours doors – most of them are relatives – to warn them,” recalled Altamash.
Together, the neighbours tried to rescue Sobiya, but she was so terrified, she refused to open the door to them. Unable to convince her that Hasnain was dead, they persuaded her to at least open the window to her room. “We were banging on the door but she was scared and would not open the door. We assured her that we were her neighbours, but she still refused. When she finally opened the sliding window, we cut the grille, pulled her out and took her to Titan Hospital,” added Altamash.
On the way, Sobiya told them how she had escaped her brother. She told them: ‘I was asleep, when I saw Hasnain killing my sister with a sharp knife on the throat. He slit my daughter’s throat too. I saw what was happening, but couldn’t react.”
But when Hasnain went towards her, Sobiya stood up and fought him. She was injured on her neck and cheek, but managed to run past him and save herself. Hasnain knocked on the door, but she started yelling for help.
Cameraman suffers heart attack
A cameraman of a TV news channel suffered a heart attack while covering the murders of a 14-member family and died soon after. The cameraman has been identified as Ratan Bhowmik. He had gone to Thane Civil Hospital where the bodies of the 15 victims were taken for an autopsy. Soon after reaching the hospital and viewing the bodies, he complained of chest pain and collapsed, before succumbing to a stroke, police said.
Later, it was learnt that he had a history of heart problems and had undergone angioplasty around a year ago. (Read more)
The monthly salary the killer, Hasnain Warekar, earned as an assistant to a Chartered Accountant at a Navi Mumbai firm