Mumbai: Man in jail alleges Cop aided grabbers in snatching his Rs 50 crore bungalow

Updated: Dec 30, 2018, 07:56 IST | Faizan Khan

Roque D'Souza is alleged to have murdered his wife in a fit of rage as she constantly urged him to sell his bungalow; now, he says, his beloved property has been snatched while he languishes in jail

The current occupiers have been operating a Chinese kitchen and dabba delivery business out of a shed in the sprawling bungalow compound. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The current occupiers have been operating a Chinese kitchen and dabba delivery business out of a shed in the sprawling bungalow compound. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Few houses have seen as much sorrow and betrayal as bungalow no. 167A in Sundar Nagar. It all started when owner Roque D'Souza, 66, allegedly strangled his wife to death in the house. While he was behind bars, his own brother connived with the police to wrest control of the house, claimed Roque's lawyer, alleging that they handed over the property to the "local land mafia", who have set up a Chinese food stall in the prime property.

The owner of the sprawling, 6,000-sq-ft villa — worth Rs 50 crore — Roque D'souza is currently lodged in Arther Road jail, under trial for the murder of his wife in July 2017. Meanwhile, his house has been turned into a Chinese food delivery business without his permission, allegedly taken over by a nexus between his brother, the Vakola police and the current occupiers, whom the Roque's lawyer has labelled as "land mafia".

Roque D'Souza is currently lodged in Arthur Road jail for the murder of his wife Celine D'Souza
Roque D'Souza is currently lodged in Arthur Road jail for the murder of his wife Celine D'Souza

"The police forced Roque's sister-in-law to hand over the keys in the police station, and then handed over possession to the local land mafia. The entire trespass took place with the help of the Vakola police," alleged Roque's lawyer, Prashant Pandey, who also claimed that the police had framed his client for the murder of his wife.

When Roque went to prison, Celine's sister, Joyce Mascarenhas, took the keys of the house and arranged the funeral. "Not a single person from Roque's family came for my sister's funeral. I did all the rituals on my own. I had the keys and the police informed me that I should not hand them over to anyone," Joyce recalled.

Brother's role
Roque's brother, Joseph D'souza, turned up a fortnight after the funeral. At first he said he just wanted to check the house and verify whether the property taxes had been paid. Then two days later, he demanded the key from Joyce. "My sister married Roque 36 years ago, and he had been residing there for more than 60 years. The man [Joseph] who did not bother to attend the last rites of his sister-in-law was here all of a sudden, asking for the keys to the house. I flatly refused to give them to him, and said if he wanted them, he would have to come with me to the police station. There was no sign of him for the next 11 months," said Joyce.

Prem Chandran
Prem Chandran

She alleged that in June this year, Joseph broke into the house. "Three days after this, Joseph went to Vakola police station, asking for the keys. The cops called me to the police station, and I handed over the keys to Joseph in front of them," recalled Joyce, sharing with mid-day a letter from the police station confirming that she had handed over the keys before the cops.

"Now, I am surprised to see the land mafia illegally occupying the bungalow. are running a kitchen there, from where they supply Chinese food to nearby offices. I think Roque's brother and the Vakola police were hand-in-glove in this matter," she alleged.

Abid Ali Mushtaque Tanaji
Abid Ali Mushtaque Tanaji

Cops stalled probe?
When Roque was unaware of these developments until October 10, said his lawyer, Pandey. Once he found out, though, Roque wrote several times to the Vakola police to ask for an investigation, but the probe did not move an inch. Fed up with the attitude of the cops, Roque has now moved the sessions court.

Pandey added, "The judge accepted the urgency for inspection by Roque and his lawyer, along with the Vakola police, on November 1. Even from the panchnama, it was evident that the Vakola police had allowed the said trespassers to enter the premises. These trespassers openly flaunt their good rapport with the police in the courtroom during the hearings. I hope the court will serve justice and take the trespassers and corrupt police officers to task."

Prem Chandran and Abid Ali Mushtaque Tanaji are running a Chinese food delivery business at the bungalow
Prem Chandran and Abid Ali Mushtaque Tanaji are running a Chinese food delivery business at the bungalow

The other side
Refuting all allegations, Kailashchandra Awhad, senior inspector of Vakola police station, said, "All the allegations are baseless. I don't know Roque's sister-in law and she never visited the police station. Also, no keys were exchanged at the police station. We are inquiring into the matter following the court's order."

When informed that Joyce had a letter confirming that the keys were handed over to Joseph at Vakola police station, Awhad said, "I am not aware of this." One of the current occupiers of the property, Abid Ali told mid-day, "I bought this property from Roque's brother Joseph in 2005. Everyone is aware of this. Since his younger brother is in jail, this whole controversy has been created for no reason. I have all the documents to prove this and the matter is sub judice." His partner, Prem Chandran, echoed, "We are the owners of the property. We purchased it from Roque and his brother."

The prime property is now stuffed with furniture and cooking materials
The prime property is now stuffed with furniture and cooking materials

'Roque is lying'
Interestingly, Roque's brother Joseph said, "We sold the property to Mr Abid in 2005. Everyone is aware of this and my brother is lying." When questioned how Roque continued to live in the house till his arrest, he claimed they were the "structural owners", but could not explain what
this meant.

Sr PI to face probe?
Advocate Prashant Pandey, said, "I have sent a complaint to the police commissioner and to the zonal DCP Anil Kumbhare, mentioning that the senior PI of Vakola police is also involved, and is shielding the land mafia. The complaint was given in the last week of October, but there was no response." When contacted by mid-day, Addl CP (west) Manoj Kumar Sharma said, "I will thoroughly inquire into the case. Currently, the matter is sub judice."

Also Read: Mumbai: Architect finalised, Mayor gives inputs for bungalow plan

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