Sajid Mohammed went missing on August 1, the day he turned 15. His dad Shoukat believes it’s the price he has to pay for his opposition to the rehabilitation project in the Golibar area, in Santa Cruz, where his family has lived for a decade and a half. He has tried to get police help to find his son, but they seem disinterested.
Shoukat Mohammed’s suspicion springs from the threats he has received over the past couple of years. In April 2011, his neighbour Chandrakant Gaurav warned him that he would be ‘picked up and killed’. Mohammed approached the police to register a complaint. He says they would not make an FIR, but lodged the matter as a mere non-cognisable offence.
Mohammed has been alone in the fight against what he alleges are malpractices by Shivalik Ventures, which wants to redevelop Golibar. He has complained to the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) as well as the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority that the colony’s secretaries and chief promoters have given bogus names in the survey that was undertaken for the project and that the survey was not conducted according to SRA rules, with illegal structures listed as legal and some houses listed twice.
Shivalik developers have denied any wrongdoing. But there are other complaints of forgery and high-handedness by the builder from members of the 46 societies that are included in this redevelopment plan.
Mohammed’s house is the only structure that still stands in Shastri Colony; other residents have vacated. He has told police that he was approached by one Zaibunnissa Khan, relative of the chief promoter, Sayyed Rauf, with an offer of Rs15 lakh to withdraw his complaints against the builder.
Now, his attention is focused on finding Sajid, a Std X student of Cardinal Gracias High School, Khar. Classmates and teachers describe him as diligent and shy, but not someone who was disturbed and would have wanted to run away from home.
After ignoring Mohammed for more than 24 hours, the Nirmal Nagar police accepted his complaint. He told them that he suspected some neighbours for Sajid’s disappearance, especially Chandrakant Gaurav, Javed and Jaffar Qureishi, Ghulam Sheikh, and Ismael Roshan Khan.
End-September, he sought the help of a human rights group to write to the CM and home minister, after which the police arrested the accused. They were released on bail, and the police did not ask the Bandra court for custody even though the boy is still missing. Officials involved in the investigation refused to comment.