Residents of the Kandivli apartment complex where the 8-year-old victim spent four years with her grandparents and father, remember her as smart and intelligent.
“She was very intelligent. Despite coming from another country, she picked up Marathi very well. She was also fluent in English and Hindi, and was sweet – she had seen her father hit his mother, but still sided with him,” said next door neighbour Prajakta Patil.
She added that the accused assaulted his mother every day. “On several occasions, his mother ran into our house and hid, saying she did not want to return to her house. My husband even explained to him that he should not torture his mother, but his behaviour continued,” added Patil.
None of the neighbours knew of the sexual abuse, and were surprised to hear of his arrest. “It is shocking. He was very violent, and regularly beat up his family,” said Fatima Sheikh, who lives on the same floor, adding that a few months ago, he assaulted his mother and broke her hand. Some of the neighbours even believed he may have had a psychological problem that fuelled his violence.
(Names of neighbours have been changed on request)