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3 men try to force into Bhatt's house

Three unidentified visitors who demand an audience with Mahesh Bhatt flash a knife, reports Debasish Panigrahi.

india Updated: Nov 26, 2006 23:26 IST

Three unidentified visitors allegedly came calling to Kylemore building, behind Mehboob studio at Bandra (west) early on Sunday morning, demanding an audience with Hindi film director/producer Mahesh Bhatt, whose family members stay on a sixth floor flat.

Upon being denied entry into the building campus, the two of them allegedly manhandled the watchman and even flashed a knife before fleeing in an autorickshaw.

Additional commissioner of police, (west region), Bipin Bihari told HT on Sunday that the police were trying to ascertain the identity of the alleged hoodlums on the basis of the description given by the eyewitnesses even as the police had so far registered a non-cognisable offence in the case.

Bihari also denied reports that some underworld gang could be involved in the incident by terming them as "rumours". Mahesh Bhatt, who was in Singapore to attend a seminar, was unavailable for comments though his mobile was ringing.

Watchman of the building, Anjani Kumar Pandey who has been employed in the building for the last one year, told HT that at around 8.15 pm he noticed a man waving at him from a autorickshaw, which had been parked at a distance from the building. "I signaled at him asking him to come near the gate," Pandey said.

"He immediately got down and walked towards the gate. He was a dark burly man with a pony tail," Pandey said narrating the sequences of the event.

"He asked me whether Mahesh Bhatt was in. I told him Mahesh Bhatt stays at Juhu. He then inquired whether Bhatt's daughter Pooja was in. I told him that Pooja was out on a shoot in Goa, following which he demanded to meet some Chasmis  uncle. I straightway turned down his demand saying that Bhatt's son Rahul stayed in the flat he was referring to. But it won't be possible to allow him unless Rahul specifically directed so," Pandey added.

At this, the visitor allegedly lost his cool and started hurling abuses at Pandey. "I shot back with some Galis  and asked him to go away. The gardener of the building, Jeetu, too joined me and together we warned him from using bad words," Pandey said adding, "he left in a huff, warning me that he would be back soon to teach me a lesson," he added.

Pandey said he took him to be a drunkard. "Otherwise people do come here to meet Pooja or other members of the Bhatt family. Many give me their photographs to pass it to Pooja or Rahul. But this man was different," he added.

Pandey said the hoodlum came back after 15 minutes. "This time with two more people with him," Pandey stated. "Two of them walked upto the gate while one was in the rickshaw," Pandey stated. "As soon as I went near them, the one who had come earlier, caught hold of my hand and hurled abuses again," the 24-year-old Pandey, who is originally from Allahabad in UP, maintained.

As Pandey tried to free his hand, the man allegedly showed him a knife which was tucked in his pant and threatened to disfigure him. "I somehow managed to loosen my hand from his grip and ran to the secretary of the building to complaint about the abusing intruders," he added.

Secretary of the building S De’Silva, on his part, immediately rang up the Bandra police but the hoodlums had escaped by then.

A visit to the building revealed that the six-storied apartment, behind Mehboob studio has three flats on each floor. The sixth floor flat (no 602) belongs to Bhatt's wife, KL Bhatt. The building watchman informed that Pooja and her husband, Manish Makhija live in another flat on the same floor. Bhatt's son Rahul stays in a single room terrace flat.

The watchman of the building, Pandey, who was earlier pressed on duty in the building by a security agency, continued to guard the building even after the housing society discontinued its contract with the security agency. Pandey stays in the same building which has two watchmen on alternative shifts.

A 50 something resident of the building, who identified herself only as  Fernandes, told HT that she came to know about the incident only after watching television news. "It is so strange that we did not know what happened outside our building. Anyway, who's afraid of these people?" she asked even as a Beat Marshall from Bandra police station parked his motorcycle in the building campus, ostensibly as a precautionary measure following the complaint.

Meanwhile, investigating officer of the case, Police Inspector R Vichare of the Bandra police station said that the police had stepped up nakabandis  in the area following the incident. The police had recorded the statement of the watchman, gardener, a housemaid and the secretary of the building.

Email Debasish Panigrahi: debasish.panigrahi@hindustantimes.com