Govind Chawan, whose family was allegedly harassed by neighbours on Thursday night, said the quarrel began over a misunderstanding, and the society members were quick to target them because they disapprove of their ‘meat-eating’ habits.
“Someone threw fish gravy on them from an upper-floor flat. But people turned up in a mob at our door, repeatedly saying we eat chicken and mutton, and don’t deserve to live among vegetarians,” said Chawan.
The 18-storey Bona Venture building in Dahisar (West) bore a deserted look on Saturday. With policemen standing at the gates, children did not come out to play. The silence broke only late in the evening, when the six arrested residents returned, with more policemen in tow.
“Last night, the police called them for statements and detained them. There must have been political pressure. As Gujaratis or Jains, we are easy targets for political parties,” said a resident.
While on Friday, the building residents had talked freely about the quarrel, on Saturday, the families of those arrested said they were “too shocked” to talk about the incident.
Chawan said neighbours had been harassing them for months. “No family allows their children to play with my son, asking them to stay away from a ‘meat-eater’. They don’t allow him to feed chicken to the stray dogs; they not only frown at him, but also taunt him. Imagine the effect of this on a 12-year-old,” he said.
This was denied by not only the residents, but also the building’s security guard. “I have been working here for around three months, and I have never seen any fights over meat eating,” said a guard, without wanting to be named.
Residents insisted the fight was a result of the Chawans’ opposition to other residents using the garden in the compound, disturbing their sleep.
“They throw things from their flat when we sit there. Sometimes, it’s the water used to clean the fish, at other times it is chicken bones. This is how we knew the fish gravy thrown on us was from their flat. They have just given a petty issue a political colour. If they were right, why is no non-vegetarian family coming out in their support?” asked a woman.
Chawan agreed he objects to neighbours gathering in the garden.