Elderly Mumbai couple brutally assaulted by gang of burglars; 4 held
Elderly Borivli couple were ruthlessly thrashed by chaddi-banyan gang despite repeatedly begging goons to take their valuables and spare them; cops nab 4 accused after 7-hour manhunt; 3 still absconding
An elderly couple returning home at 2.30 am from a function had the shock of their lives when they spotted the notorious ‘chaddi-banyan’ gang lurking in their building lobby, just about to flee after a double burglary in the building. There were at least seven of them, wearing nothing but the underwear the gang gets its name from, but from the revolver and sickles in their hands, it was clear they meant business.
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While Mamta (below) escaped with a fractured hand, her husband Rohit suffered severe head injuries and is in critical condition. Pic/Sadaguru Pandit
64-year-old Rohit Desai and his wife Mamta (58) instantly sensed the threat to their lives. “I pleaded with them to take everything and leave us, but they grabbed me by the throat. At first, I thought they were going to rape me, but they snatched my necklace and earrings and grabbed my bag with such force that it fractured my finger. They threw rocks at my husband’s head and I begged them to just leave and stop hurting us, but they didn’t stop. They were nothing less than animals,” said Mamta, a BMC schoolteacher who was looking forward to soon joining her husband in retirement. Rohit is currently battling for his life in the ICU.
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Mamta Desai. Pic/Sadaguru Pandit
The events of early Monday morning will remain etched in Mamta’s memory forever. Because it was such a late hour, their relatives even dropped them home and waited to see that the couple had safely stepped inside the Satya Sai Krupa Society in Borivli (west), where they had been living for over two decades.
1. Rohit Desai (64) and his wife Mamta (58) bumped into the crooks in their building lobby around 2.30 am. Illustrations/Uday Mohite
But their timing could not have been worse, as they bumped into the gang members sneaking off after a burglary. Within moments, the goons ruthlessly assaulted Rohit and Mamta. “I cried and begged, but they kept hitting him. There was nobody to help and I was held by two of them and couldn’t move,” Mamta recalled.
2. Once the gang fled, Mamta called their relative for help, and he called the police control to report the crime
The sole security guard manning the society had fled when the gang pelted stones at him too. However, when he ran to call for help, the crooks panicked and ran away. While Mamta escaped with minimal injuries, her husband, Rohit, wasn’t as lucky. The 64-year-old had several lacerations on his head and was bleeding profusely. Mamta called the relatives who had dropped them home, and together, they managed to take Rohit to hospital.
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3. 150 cops responded to the wireless alert that was sent out; both cops and the goons got injured in the cross-fire
The relative, Kaushal Parekh, who turned the car around to Satya Sai Krupa Society again, said he was shocked to see the condition of the old couple he had dropped home just 10 minutes ago. “We got a little late after a function, that’s why we ensured that both of them entered the gate safely. We had no clue this would happen,” said Parekh, who called police control.
4. By the end of the manhunt, the cops had arrested four of the gang members.
Meanwhile, as the goons were making their escape around 2.45 am or so, PI Manohar Hindlekar (Borivli police station) spotted them while he was on a routine night patrol. Simultaneously, he received an alert on the wireless about the senior citizens who were assaulted by the same gang. The inspector immediately called for back up and gave chase. The entire operation lasted over seven hours, and 150 cops from various police stations hunted down the culprits as they escaped into the nearby Shimpoli marshes.
The couple encountered the gang in their building lobby, just as the goons were sneaking off after a double burglary there.
Responding to the wireless alert, ACP (Borivli division) Sudhakar Pujari, Senior Police Inspector (SPI) Gunaji Sawant arrived at the scene with their team and cordoned off the entire area. When the gang realised they were being hunted down, they opened fire and the cops fired back. One of the gang members, Ashok Rajendar Shinde (35), got shot in the leg and was the first to be arrested. Six cops also got injured, while another of the accused was nabbed from a nullah with a fractured leg.
150 cops combed the Shimpoli marshes for over seven hours on Monday morning, arresting four men. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
After the first man was nabbed, the rest of them jumped into the nullah and slathered mud all over themselves so they could blend into the darkness. The police continued to comb the woods and managed to weed out three more men — Ramesh Kalyan Kale (30), Sanjay Kalyan Kale (25), and Santosh Devidas Chavan (35). All the accused hail from the Kalam area in Osmanabad district.
The cops recovered the bag robbed from the senior citizens, along with a country-made revolver, bullet casings and sickles used in the crime. They also learnt that the gang had broken into two flats at the society. DCP (Zone XI) Vikram Deshmane said, “We were unable to figure out how much property was robbed from the flats because they were unoccupied and one of them had been vacant since November.”
Rohit Desai was admitted at Saifee Hospital with several head injuries and is currently in the ICU. “The patient was fully conscious post the assault but while being brought to the hospital, he lost consciousness, before which he had also vomited twice. He has four large cuts on his head. His condition is very critical and we have kept him on ventilator support,” said Dr Suresh Sankhla, consulting neurosurgeon at Saifee.
>> SPI Gunaji Sawant
>> API G Gharge
>> PSI Sachin Parodwad
>> Constable Sachin Rege
>> Constable Gurav
>> Constable Patil
Dr Krishna Pimple, medical superintendent of Shatabdi Hospital, said that while the accused, Ashok Shinde, sustained a fracture in his right leg from the bullet, he is stable. Four police officials have been posted — two outside the ward and two by his bed — to keep an eye on Shinde.
The chaddi-banyan gang usually strikes in rural areas, but for the past few months, they have been targeting suburban areas. In the past week itself, the gang hit houses at Mira Road, MHB, Borivli and other areas. Two separate offences have been registered and the matter is under investigation under supervision of DCP Vikram Deshmane, Zone XI, police added.