The gloom in the Mehta household on Thursday was in sharp contrast to its mood just a day earlier. The exams of Hemani Mehta (14), who was shot by her neighbour Harish Marolia (65), and her brother Vatsal had ended and the family was planning a brief vacation.
Hemani’s uncle, Chandrakant Mehta, said: “My brother Ketan [Hemani’s father] and the society secretary were returning from morning prayers when a building watchman approached them. He said Marolia had warned him not to allow construction labourers into the building.” Chandrakant said that when Ketan and the secretary confronted Marolia, he threatened them with dire consequences.
Bhavan’s A.H. Wadia High School, Andheri, where Hemani studied, will observe a holiday on Friday in her memory. It has also postponed the remaining Class 9 examinations to April 8.
Saujanya Society, where the Mehtas stay, is about a kilometre away from the school.
On Thursday afternoon, the school’s three-storey building was deserted. Students, who had come in to give their exams, had already left.
“Hemani was a mild-mannered and humble girl,” said a staff member, on condition of anonymity. “She was an average student as far as grades were concerned.”
Nonika Bareja, the school’s headmistress, could not be reached for comment.