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Old man no longer at sea

Police round up ?security guards? illegally deployed by builder at Bandra villa, reports Gigil Varghese.

india Updated: Dec 26, 2006 02:35 IST

A Hindustan Times report on how the owner of a crumbling Bandra bungalow worth Rs 18 crore was being harassed by trespassers trying to grab the property led to a police raid on Monday evening and the eviction of 12 so-called security guards menacing the owner.

Startled security guards staying on the premises — even running their own dhaba-like business — ran for cover when police burst into Santos Villa, the home of former football player Domingo Santos (80).

The 12 men, lean and swaggering — many wearing towels and vests and kneading dough when the police entered — tried dropping names.

Humko bola gaya tha ki koi problem hoga to crime branch mein ek office ko phone karo (We were told to call an officer at the crime branch if there was a problem),” one of them boasted to the police.

Santos’ case reflects how owners of bungalows across Bandra are sometimes hectored and pressured into selling out to developers. But Monday’s police action also indicates that the interests of such owners can be protected if public attention is focused on them.

The raid followed directions from Additional Commissioner of Police Bipin Bihari who had said on Sunday that “appropriate action” would be taken. Santos, who lives alone, had narrated how the “security guards” cut his power and water after being placed there by a developer and a real-estate agent trying to wrest his property.

There are claims and counter-claims in the Santos case. Investigations by Senior Police Inspector Laxman Bhure reveal that cases have been filed by estate agent Jeremaih D’souza, the man who allegedly made Santos sign over the property to him.

D’Souza then approached the High Court and petitioned that the case be transferred to the crime branch, which was granted by the court.

When HT asked D’Souza about the Rs 35 lakh paid to Santos in 2004, he said: “I bought the property when the prices were low. Santos had himself appointed a security guard.”

Back at Santos Villa, Santos was looking for a key to lock the gate. “This is the first time in two years that I will sleep soundly on Christmas,” Santos said. “I truly wish you Merry Christmas.”

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First Published: Dec 26, 2006 02:35 IST