Cops say Chetan Gala, accused of killing three, hid murder weapon, tried to hamper probe by handing over a kitchen knife
Residents of the Parvati Mansion building gather to bid a teary adieu to their three neighbours, who fell prey to Gala. Pic/Ashish Raje
Chetan Gala, the 54-year-old Grant Road resident arrested on Friday for murdering three people in his building, initially intended to kill his own wife and daughter, and went on a rampage while looking for them, the police sources revealed on Saturday.
A day after the brutal killings, which includes an 18-year-old girl, the DB Marg police said that Gala’s murderous spree was triggered by an argument with his wife Aruna. She had come to his house at Parvati Mansion in Grant Road with one of her three daughters to deliver tiffin to him, as was her daily practice.
“Gala and Aruna got into an argument over their separation, and Gala grabbed a dagger, after which he charged at their daughter. Aruna managed to save her, pushed Chetan away, and the mother and daughter fled. Gala stormed out of his second floor flat and entered the Mistry residence next door looking for them,” said an officer with the DB Marg police station.
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Rajesh Mohite and Bharat Mehta
Over the next 20 minutes, Gala went on to kill Ilaben Mistry, 70, her husband Jayendrabhai, 77, and Jenil Brahmbhatt, 18, who came running up from the first floor on hearing the commotion, stabbing them multiple times. He also tried to kill an eight-year-old boy but the people who had gathered outside the building started throwing stones at him, after which Gala let the boy go. Jayendrabhai had managed to call the police before Chetan found him, and teams were immediately dispatched to the spot. Meanwhile, other residents took Aruna and her daughter into a shop on the ground floor and locked them inside.
“Gala then locked himself in his house, changed his clothes and hid the blood soaked ones. He even hid the murder weapon and gave us a kitchen knife when we arrived. However, the video of the murder helped us identify that we had the wrong weapon. We searched the house and recovered the dagger,” the officer said.
Gala was produced in a holiday court on Saturday in an in-camera hearing. Sources said that on being asked if he needed psychiatric help, Gala said he was enraged at Aruna for leaving him and that he had been asking her to come back for the last 50 days. Additional Metropolitan Magistrate SS Ghare subsequently remanded him to police custody till March 29.
Jenil Brahmbhatt and Anju Pawar
“Gala is now expressing remorse over the murders. He specifically says he should not have killed Jenil,” said a source. Neighbours told mid-day that Jenil, a bright student, was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in science at the KC College in Churchgate. Her dream was to become a doctor and one day move abroad with her family. She was also a devout follower of Lord Swaminarayan and the Brahmbhatts host prayers at their residence every Sunday.
“Chetan’s own daughter was weak in studies and Jenil used to help her. She would frequently go to the Gala residence for this and Gala didn’t like it. He would tell his daughters to not play with Jenil,” a neighbour said. Jenil’s mother Snehal, 44, on hearing her daughter’s cries, had rushed to her aid and Gala allegedly stabbed her so hard that her intestines spilled out of her stomach.
Anju Pawar, 45, who saved Snehal’s life, said, “I saw a bloodied Snehal tumbling down the stairs and ran to her. I stopped the blood flow with a towel, got her downstairs and hailed a taxi. We forced the passengers out, got her inside and sped to the HN Reliance Foundation Hospital. Snehal is fine and able to speak now.”
Meanwhile, Rajesh Mohite, 55, Bharat Mehta, 80, and two others took it upon themselves to stop Gala’s murderous rampage. “We grabbed whatever we could —sticks, cricket stumps—and accosted Gala, who tried to attack us but lost his nerve when he saw he was outnumbered, after which he locked himself in his house,” Mehta told mid-day.