Four days after the Colaba police arrested a 40-year-old for slashing five boys near the Woodhouse Road junction, killing one and seriously injuring two, they are contemplating psychiatric help for him.
The reason: all attempts by doctors at JJ Hospital and the police to communicate with the man have been stonewalled by his stoic silence. He even refuses to respond to sign language.
"There is little hope that he would speak. We have to refer him to a psychiatrist," said investigating officer, Inspector RB Gaikar of the Colaba police station.
The assailant is currently lodged at JJ Hospital's police lock-up where he is being treated for the minor injuries he had suffered during a scuffle with his victims.
Since Thursday, Gaikar has been making rounds of the police lock-up at the hospital trying to establish at least his identity. "He looks like a North-Indian. That is why we even wrote our questions in Hindi. But he showed no interest," he added.
In fact, the assailant's silence and stay under medical supervision has prevented the police to obtain his custody, which is crucial for his interrogation. "Now our priority is to arrest him and send him to a psychiatrist," Gaikar added.
Significantly, the police have found out that the accused is not a dumb as he pretends to be - especially before doctors and the police. Guards in the ward, where he has been lodged, have apparently heard him murmur at times. "But they could not make out what he says," Gaikar added.
The police have also yet to see him react violently - common in cases of any psychosomatic schizophrenic. Even doctors have declared him fit, albeit his suspected mental condition.
Interestingly, during questioning the witnesses, the police learnt that the man was closely watching the two groups of boys fighting near the Woodhouse Road junction on the fateful night. He initially tried to attack one group - five workers from a reputed five-star hotel in Colaba. But when they pleaded mercy, he turned to the other group and attacked them with a 9-inch long knife.
Moreover, the credit cards recovered from him belong to a businesswoman from Ahmedabad, who had lodged a case of robbery three weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Bombay Psychiatrist Society President Dr Yusuf Machiswalla opined that the assailant should be immediately referred to a psychiatrist who could help break his silence.
"There are two three possibilities. Firstly, he could be an alcoholic or drug addict who might have slipped into a state of shock after the effect of the intoxicant diminished. Or he could be a schizophrenic who reacted violently to the situation after developing a delusion that those boys could attack him too," he said. "A psychiatrist should check his mental condition."
Email Debasish Panigrahi: debasish .email@example.com