My Karjat house is my weekend getaway and peaceful writer’s corner. On 26th November at 12.18 pm in the afternoon, I received a message with some pictures by Uttam Thakur, a contractor at Star India Project, in which I have my flat, stating that someone has damaged the outer gates by siding the netting of my residence. When I received his message, I was very upset and sent two audio messages to him expressing my anger and disappointment towards the ungrateful conduct that the villagers have shown towards me in spite of my support on various fronts and social contributions. I have created this house with immense effort and hard work and am a resident of Karjat. When we reached our premises on 6th December, we discovered that the house had been vandalised inside and many things were stolen. The interior was a complete mess with all emptied drawers, various items were strewn on the ground, gutkha tainting every room’s floor, and empty water bottles were thrown all around the house. Uttam happened to drop in exactly in no time and I vented out my anger at him as believed him to be the perpetrator. When we arrived there the scenario was different from the actual pictures he sent us and the house more damaged than before. That itself is a big reason to suspect his motives. A once neat and tidy house nest was in a disgusting mess and absolute disarray where the intention to cause damage was quite obvious. Within an hour of our arrival, Uttam Thakur arrived to check in with a timely visit.
The background story:
I took the initiative to build a small Ganesha temple for our society premises more than a year ago. There is a neighbouring Shiva temple on the banks of the river Ulhas which needed an overhead shed for various prayers and pujas done by the community. I gladly supported both these constructions to enrich the community’s spiritual well being and holy practices. During their built up various employment opportunities arose and I was glad to see that it contributed to the livelihood of all the people involved. But sadly, the Ganesha temple was vandalised badly overnight due to which I had to move the idol to a safer space where it can be worshipped with due reverence and respect. The Ganesha Puja was a great point for us to carry out some event or the other and it generated various means for the villagers to earn money. But since we moved it due to the temple’s vandalisation, the earnings of various people have been stopped and come to a standstill.
What has each one to gain?
Due to this robbery, it is important to understand the various perspectives and how it pushes everyone’s advantage. Here each one is trying to reap their benefits and seeking to capitalise their future earnings in this agenda. The builder does not get along with the local villagers, so the moment villagers and I clash and me being a localite, I will have to deal with them and thus there is one more candidate along with the builder to oppose the villagers.
Villagers are trying to plan & push the blame on the builder’s news appointed contractor Vipul Shah and his staff so that once they can be held responsible for the act, they will be unable to continue working here in the future. Meanwhile, we cannot ignore the fact that the staff of Vipul Shah are not known to us and they might be eyeing the property and observed that no one visits here frequently. It is the responsibility of Shah to make sure his staff is trustworthy, in this the entire game builder never introduced Vipul Shah to residents officially granting him permission to complete the project. Above all, Vipul Shah is not the first such entry in these premises who has taken responsibility on behalf of builders towards the said property. So many flat owners’ hard-earned money has been stuck in this project and they all will eventually force the builder to fix their homes. Thus the builder is compelled to hire them for completion and maintenance. These contracts open up new avenues of earning for them in the current already recessive time. But the fact of the matter is that nothing in those premises can happen without the permission and knowledge of both parties; one being Uttam Thakur the villager, landowner, and contractor, second being the builder Pradeep Sajjan, Sandeep Sajjan & their staff. In the daytime a residence’s double door locks were broken with a noisy grinder, household items stolen and the premises vandalised. A grinder’s high octave screech can reach great distances alerting people during night hours; therefore this robbery has surely been done in the daytime to disguise the sounds as routine construction work. It is very difficult to believe that a group of people could breaking inside a premise, take their own sweet time to select what they wanted to steal, vandalise and then enjoy their alcoholic drinks in the house and neither the builder’s people in the premises or the villagers have no clue or just have not heard anything about it.
Police in action:
Police soon came to investigate the matter and support us. PSI Arun Bhor had come with his team AP Alhat and other officers and assured us that they will look into this theft case seriously and ensure justice. There were glass fingerprints, gutkha marks, and footprints all over the house. This can be crucial evidence to nail the culprit and should have been retained to further help in the verification. I’m sure they will do it in the future but hopefully, it should not be too late. As Police were carrying out their investigation, they received a call from Sureshbhau Lad who is the former MCP MLA and Karjat Assembly Constituency representative. Sureshbhau happens to know Uttam’s father and the villagers as they are his vote bank, therefore he called the police officer and told them to be easy on the investigation as the villagers matter to him and how Uttam has suffered a throat paralysis attack. Kindly note, I have all the compassion towards any ailing human and would surely wish them recovery and good health. But one thing I would like to highlight here that a culprit must be brought to justice. This is the perfect case of how someone can take advantage of his health status to hamper justice. Meanwhile, people are forgetting that when the crime was done, perhaps he was perfectly fine and that guise cannot be the excuse for avoiding seeking the investigation facts. Uttam’s throat paralysis attack impacted the voice box and throat muscles and not his whole body. Presently he is already in recovery mode and is very much able to drive alone, walk and move around in the city. He is physically fine and no movements of his are restricted in any way.
Reason for Suspicion:
Uttam Thakur, Ganesh Bhase or Manohar Bhase, Ankush Thackeray, and Rupesh Thakackeray are the people who work in various capacities as painter, plumber, welder, etc, where Uttam being contractor assigns various building maintenance jobs inside that residential building. Even my house interior was done by the same group and they very well know the entry-exit and every aspect of that flat. Sandip Sajjan, the Builder of Star India Project had initially assigned Uttam as their contractor for buildings development and maintenance work for many years. Even when the contract was given to a third party called Vipul Shah to renovate the premises, Uttam was sidelined by the builder. The reason I doubt him is that in those premises there are various illegal activities ranging from unauthorised parking to illicit activities and the truth is that he is taking complete advantage of that space and using it to his benefit. The fact is that he has complete control on the premises and even today, no one can enter those premises without his knowledge. Therefore to execute such a theft which involves the use of high-decibel grinding machinery, planned time, strong control on the environment, and people around during the theft is only possible for those who have complete control on the premises. Presently the throat paralysis stroke he suffered last month is taken to his advantage to dilute the reality under this pretext.
Builder alleges that Uttam Thakur has stolen the building’s raw material and tiles from the site and fixed them in his own house. Similarly, the new Contractor Vipul Shah also claims that the worth lakhs of rupees raw material and tiles that he ordered were stolen from the premises. The matter reached such a point that Uttam completely stalled the site work and the builder had to practically beg and request Uttam’s father to resume work on his site. Many contractors came and left, the project is still in shabby condition. Now Vipul Shah is a new contractor and claims that his goods too have been stolen and is suffering a loss of 5 to 6 lakhs. When police were enquiring around with the onsite people, Uttam, and his team was keener on crying about the builder’s non-payment of their bills and nobody was sensitive to the robbery and helped out on that front. They were trying to settle their score with the builder and tried these diversion tactics to take the matter away from the actual investigation of the robbery point and blame it all on the builder.
Initially, when we took possession of our residence, the builder was very active in the development of the building project. Flat owners were clamouring to get their possession on the earliest and chasing the builder to hand over their flats. I invested my hard-earned money for my house and have my Rahivasi Dakhla there (resident claim). I dared to claim what was lawfully mine against all odds by the builder and his people. The villagers faced so many challenges from the builder, but at every step, I stood by with the villagers and was voicing opinions for them and fighting for their justice all the way. I always supported them with various household tasks where they constantly earned some money regularly. Then all of a sudden the equation changes and they rob my house to deter me and convey I cannot survive there without giving them that extortion money to be safe. Paying them regularly to keep my space safe seems to be a compulsion now?
Today the presence of such local groups has blocked so many families from receiving their rightful home and shelter. Some residents have invested their life savings to buy a house here to retire peacefully while many are still paying their loans hoping to get possession of their homes someday. Such a vicious nexus completely compromises the well-being, happiness, and future of so many families and it surely needs to be addressed strongly. Local politicians and authority members must ensure the safety of all residents and not encourage unlawful and illegal practices that thwart development and compromise property for their own selfish gains.
We are a nation that is still building its foundation for the well being, progress, and safety of their daughters. What I have lost, I am not expecting it to come back to me. I will bless the person who is using our stolen goods. Today I am a self-made person and therefore it is extremely important that I know the motive of this act as it is a breach of my safety and trust. In this independent India where a girl is daring to fight for her house and stay in these desolate premises with the hope that people will soon move in and come to stay there, safety and peace will be ensured for her. This is all I hope.