A pall of gloom hung over Saujanya Society in Andheri (W) on Friday. The building, which looks no different from a hundred others in the vicinity, had suddenly become the most well-known in the area.
On Thursday, retired customs officer Harsh Marolia (57) had taken his neighbour Hemini Mehta (14) hostage after an argument with other society members. He eventually shot her and fired upon the police, dying in the return fire.
Two policemen were injured in the shootout.
A constable and a home guard were posted on Friday at the building gate. They allowed visitors to the Mehtas only after clearing their entry with the family over the intercom. The visitors were not allowed to go up alone either; they were made to wait at the gate while a Mehta family member came to fetch them.
“We were forced to do this after some mediapersons tried to barge into the Mehtas’ flat in the morning, causing them great stress,” said a policeman.
Hundreds joined Hemini’s funeral procession as it wound its way towards Amboli. Not only relatives and friends, but even strangers who had learnt about the incident joined the procession.
“It was purely out of sympathy for the family that I came here. I learnt about the incident yesterday through the media. The girl’s death saddened me,” said Vishwas Patil, a resident of nearby Andheri Market locality.
Hemini’s grandfather, C. Mehta, said: “It’s an irreparable loss for our family. The e ntire clan is in a state of shock.”
A security guard at Saujanya Society said Marolia’s body was not brought to the building, but was taken directly taken to a cremation ground at Khar.