Three-year-old Vaishnavi sat in the corner of her 10x10 square foot room in a chawl in Kandivli (East), listening intently to a conversation between her elders and two policemen as they spoke about how her aunt was set on fire earlier in the day.
“Vaishnavi was on the mezzanine floor when Sachin set my sister-in-law on fire. I am glad that our children are safe,” said Sunita Langde, 29, Shraddha’s sister-in-law.
Shraddha, a native of Chakhan, near Pune, came to the city five years ago after marrying Shashikant, 31, a driver. The couple lives at Sainath chawl with their three-year-old son Sriraj, Shashikant’s parents, Harishchandra, 62 and Sushila, 58, brother Subhash, 34, sister-in-law Sunita and their daughter, Vaishnavi.
“On Valentine’s day last year, Sachin had grabbed Shraddha’s hands. There was a major argument and we had filed a non-cognisable complaint against him. He backed off, but four months ago he started harassing her again. Since the past week, he had been making too many calls. That is when we decided to confront him,” said Sunita.
Shabana Shaikh, the 18-year-old present at the spot, said: “I was petrified when he entered. I rushed out to seek help. But he had locked the door from inside when I came back.”
“The general concern [here in the chawl] is that if it could happen to Shraddha, it could also happen to anyone else,” said Shashikant, who also runs a newspaper stall.
The second victim, Minal Zamin, 36, lives in the chawl with her forty-year-old husband, Mahendra, a government employee, and her two children – Mayuri, 14 and Aryan, 8.