Mumbai: Rogue tenant locks up ailing elderly couple inside their own home in Vasai

Updated: Nov 22, 2019, 07:25 IST | Diwakar Sharma, Samiullah Khan | Mumbai

With police making errant tenant and landlords share same space, son of elderly couple sends them food via a lowered rope

Raj Sharma. Pics/ Hanif Patel
Raj Sharma. Pics/ Hanif Patel

An elderly couple has allegedly been abused and forced into house arrest by their tenant of eight years, who paid rent only for the first year after he moved into the flat in 2011. He is allegedly trying to usurp the Vasai property. Compounding the couple's misery are trespassing cases being filed against anyone trying to help them — be it neighbours or the housing society's office bearers. The local police have refused to comment on the 'sensitive' issue, saying they are not allowed to.

Amid this, the couple's only son has threatened to immolate himself if anything happens to his confined parents. Zarina Banoo Pirani, 67, and her bedridden husband suffering from dementia, Shaban Ali Pirani, 75, have been confined to the bedroom of the 2BHK house in Mirchandani Garden IRIS Co in Vasai by the tenant, Raj Sharma, for almost two months.

Zarina ended up inside the house on September 24 when she and her cousin confronted Sharma. "He pulled my mother inside and hit her with a chapatti tavaa on the back. When my aunt tried to help, he assaulted her with a knife. She suffered a cut on her finger," said Salim Pirani, Zarina's son.

Salim and Rashmi send a bag of supplies up to Zarina (right) who hauls it up;Salim and Rashmi send a bag of supplies up to Zarina (right) who hauls it up

Although a case of outraging a woman's modesty was registered against Sharma at Manikpur police station, instead of arresting him, cops asked the couple to share the flat with him.

Since then, Sharma has not allowed anyone, including Salim, to meet them. Zarina, also the flat's owner, suffers from low blood pressure and arthritis.

"According to my father's neurologist, he is living his last days. I live in Dahisar with my wife and son," Salim told mid-day.

Salim and Rashmi send a bag of suppliesSalim and Rashmi send a bag of supplies

Salim used to work in Dubai and returned to India a couple of years ago. Ever since Sharma and his wife stopped paying rent, Zarina and Shaban — and later Salim — had been waiting for them to vacate the house.

Supplies tied to rope

"My wife Rashmi and I get food, milk, snacks, tea, water, etc. When my mother requested him to open the door, Sharma abused her. So she started lowering down a rope from the seventh-floor flat to which we tie a bag with supplies for her to pull up. However, she told me over the phone that Sharma checks those too and lets them eat only plain food. He either throws away stuff such as kheer, fruits, and sweets or eats them himself. He tells my mother that 'it is not a hotel, no aish-o-araam, eat plain food to live'," a teary-eyed Salim said. He also claimed that Sharma's wife has falsely accused him of molestation.

"Manikpur police are not taking any action against Sharma for reasons best known to them," added Salim, who works in an aviation firm in Prabhadevi.

Zarina’s injury after Raj Sharma allegedly hit her with a tava;Zarina's injury after Raj Sharma allegedly hit her with a tava

A neighbour, Maninder Singh Kohli, told mid-day, "The window through which Zarina auntie takes food does not have a grill. It is a scary sight as she may fall while lowering the rope."

"My mother often complains of dizziness. If she falls down, who will be responsible? Or what if Sharma pushes her out of the window? These worries haunt me all the time," Salim added.

"My father's medical examination is due. If anything happens to my parents, I will immolate myself here in this society. The Manikpur police, Sharma and his wife will be responsible for my death. Cops have been telling me that this is a civil matter and they cannot do anything," Salim said.

Helpers accused of trespass

Zarina and her cousin in a scuffle with himZarina and her cousin in a scuffle with him

Franky Jathanna, 47, told mid-day, "I was at home when the security guard told me that an elderly woman is being beaten up at the seventh floor and her cousin needs help. Naturally, people will jump to rescue anyone being thrashed. But whoever gathered was booked for trespass by Manikpur police."

The security guard, Sarvesh Dubey, confirmed having informed the chairman, secretary and other prominent members of the housing society after he heard the commotion on September 24.

"Seven people, including Zarina, her daughter-in-law Rashmi, her cousins Gulzar and Mumtaz, Kohli, Pirani's advocate Sandeep Patil and Jathanna were booked for assault and trespass by Sharma," said Prakash Lodaya, secretary of the society. He added that outstanding maintenance bill for the said flat is nearly Rs 1.40 lakh. After the incident, the neighbours stopped intervening.

No electricity

Shaban Pirani, who is suffering from dementia and is bedriddenShaban Pirani, who is suffering from dementia and is bedridden

Whenever Sharma and his wife step out, they lock Zarina and Shaban in. Salim alleged the duo wants to occupy the flat. He also added that they often cut electricity to his parents' room.

"Last week, I could not reach my mother-in-law's mobile for three days. I informed the Palghar police and managed to speak to her when one cop visited the flat. She couldn't charge the phone as there was no power. Also, they had no drinking water. The cops got them a few bottles in the middle of the night," said Rashmi.

 Zarina’s cousin suffered a cut on her finger after allegedly being assaulted by Sharma. Zarina's cousin suffered a cut on her finger after allegedly being assaulted by Sharma

When mid-day contacted Sharma, he refused to comment. On the other hand, the senior inspector of Manikpur police, Rajendra Kamble, refused to comment on the 'sensitive' matter and gave the cryptic reply: "We are not allowed to speak on the matter."

Police speak

Sources at Palghar police told mid-day that there was a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Sharma and the Piranis before the purchase of the flat in 2011 from its previous owners, Sandeep and Shraddha More. However, Salim denied having signed an MoU. "But, yes, he had made a part payment to buy the flat while the ownership was in my mother's name. Also, I have returned Rs 22.5 lakh to Sharma," he claimed. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vasai division, Dr Ashwini Patil, refused to say much saying it is a civil dispute. "Sharma had transferred over Rs 20 lakh to the Mores but the Agreement for Sale was made in the name of Zarina Bano Pirani. No proof has been given by the Piranis to justify that they returned the money to Sharma," she said.

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