Two of their neighbours may have died in a shootout three days ago, but residents of Saujanya Apartment in Andheri were not initially willing to help the police re-enact the chain of events on Sunday that led to the deaths.
Their excuses ranged from “I have to go out on Sunday” to “I did not see anything”. It could be plain apathy or fear of getting into legal hassles.
“It was disappointing to see people hiding in their homes. Most of them gave excuses for not cooperating,” an officer said, requesting anonymity.
Finally, fed up with the residents’ poor response, the police had to issue a veiled threat that made them speak.
The police warned them, “This incident has attracted entire nation’s attention. Every one wants to know how and why a minor innocent girl was killed. If you people (witnesses) are not ready to help us in the investigation, it means that you have something to hide and therefore even you people can be held for hiding and withholding information about the crime.”
On Thursday, retired customs officer Harish had taken his neighbour Hemini Mehta (14) hostage after an argument with other society members. The police said that Harish opened fire on them and was killed in the return fire, after which the girl’s body was found.
When Hindustan Times visited the society on Sunday, a team of policemen from the DN Nagar police station was present there. They wanted to speak to all the witnesses who were present at the time of the incident. Their plan was to reconstruct the entire chain of events leading to the accused taking the girl hostage. This was being done to understand the incident clearly, the officer added.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Dilip Suryavanshi, however, refused to comment. Deepak Patni, the secretary of the building, too refused to comment.