Drama Starts In Goregaon And Ends After Night Chase Through City’s Poshest Neighbourhoods
Mateen Hafeez & Nitasha Natu | TNNMumbai: Malabar Hill cops nabbed a 34-year-old man, who kidnapped his stepfather at gunpoint from his Goregaon (E) residence, after a dramatic chase through some of south Mumbai’s poshest neighbourhoods on Tuesday night.
Mikhail Zaveri drove to one of Mumbai’s most expensive addresses, the Il Palazzo building (near the tourist destination of Hanging Garden), with stepdad Pradeep Sood as hostage to collect a modest ransom—of Rs 3 lakh— from his aunt. He was finally caught near the Kemps Corner junction in his Maruti Swift.
Police officials said Tuesday’s drama started after the 61-year-old Pradeep refused to give in to his stepson’s demand for Rs 3 lakh. The unemployed Mikhail would get close to Rs 1 lakh as monthly pocket money, the officials added.
Pradeep, who runs an engineering firm, is partially paralysed and lives on the 20th floor of the Raag Meghmalhar building in Goregaon (E) with wife Tara. The couple got married nearly 20 years ago. Mikhail is Tara’s biological son from her late husband, Lalit Zaveri.
“Mikhail had frequent fights with his stepdad; the latter asked him to leave the house and stay separately but Mikhail demanded Rs 3 lakh,’’ DCP A Patil said. Other officials said Mikhail wanted the money to pay a club membership fee.
An enraged Mikhail threatened Pradeep with an airgun on Tuesday evening and asked him to call up his sister, Mridula Maluste, a resident of Malabar Hill. Pradeep refused once again, prompting Mikhail to make the call himself and ask Mridula to keep the money ready. He threatened to kill his stepdad if she did not pay up.
“Mikhail had a noisy fight with his parents around 5 pm on Tuesday. He kicked and punched his mother and also assaulted his stepfather. He then went on a rampage in the house, smashing the television set, electronic appliances and furniture. He even turned on the gas stove in the kitchen, threatening to set the house on fire,’’ Patil said.
After snatching his mother’s cellphone and locking her at home, Mikhail forced his stepfather into their black Maruti Swift and left for Malabar Hill around 8.45 pm. “We received a call from Mridula that Mikhail was coming to her house to collect Rs 3 lakh,’’ Malabar Hill senior inspector Iqbal Shaikh said. A team of 50 policemen were then posted around Il Palazzo though cops knew only one half of the car’s registration number.
Mikhail drove into the no-entry road on Little Gibbs Road to reach Il Palazzo. But, as the police deployment was around the Malabar Hill Club, officials failed to spot the car immediately. So Mikhail saw the cops at a distance and realised something was amiss and took a turn and fled.
What followed was a chase through some of the city’s toniest parts. It was finally at Kemps Corner that the police vehicles overtook the Swift and blocked its path.
But the drama did not end there. A cornered Mikhail then tried to attack his stepdad in the car as cops fumbled while opening the car’s jammed door. One of the cops, however, managed to yank the door open before Mikhail could do any harm. Mikhail, who was abusing cops and his stepdad at the top of his voice, was bundled into a police car and handcuffed. A panchnama was carried out there itself, resulting in a traffic snarl on the stretch.
Malabar Hill police station was witness to some high drama around 11 pm on Tuesday. Among the relatives who turned up to lodge the complaint against Mikhail was heritage activist Anita Garware. She is the sister of Mridula’s husband.
Mikhail, officials said, was heavily into gambling. “We scanned his cellphone and found a text message — to a friend — where Mikhail said he had lost Rs 28,000 in gambling,’’ assistant inspector Ghansham Palange said. An airgun, two knives, three cellphones, Rs 4,000 and sleeping pills were recovered from Mikhail.
The stepdad had complained to cops about Mikhail in the past. Mikhail, in December 2003, had demanded Rs 40,000. Mikhail had also allegedly beaten up a female friend in 2001, after which she complained to the Vashi police.
Mikhail has been booked for abduction, extortion, attempt to murder, damage to property, assault, criminal intimidation under the IPC and for possession of firearms under the Arms Act. A local court has sent him to police custody till July 18.
A five-hour Family Drama, JULY 14 TUESDAY
5.15 PM — 8.45 PM RAAG MEGHMALHAR COMPLEX, FILM CITY ROAD, GOREGAON EAST
Mikhail Zaveri demands Rs 3 lakh from his stepfather Pradeep Sood. After the stepfather refuses, Mikhail fights with him and in a fit of anger smashes TV, furniture and other items in the house.
He beats up the mother, threatens the stepfather with an air gun and asks him to call up his sister staying at Malabar Hill to keep the amount ready. Mikhail then turns on the gas stove, saying he would set the house on fire. Minutes later, he forces his stepfather into their black Maruti Swift. He is now armed with two kitchen knives besides the gun. Before leaving, he locks up the mother in the house and also snatches her phone
8.15 PM II PALAZZO, MALABAR HILL After receiving Mikhail’s threat, Sood’s sister Mridula Maluste calls up her relatives seeking advice. One of them asks her to call him over to Il Palazzo so that they can nab him with the help of the police. Mridula then calls up the Malabar Hill police
8.45 PM ROAD OUTSIDE IL PALAZZO About 50 cops, most of them in plainclothes, and five jeeps take position to nab Mikhail who, they are informed by his relatives, would be arriving there in a black car
10.05 PM LITTLE GIBBS ROAD Cops find a black Swift, which is being driven on the wrong side, approaching Il Palazzo . Mikhail, who is in the car, smells a rat. He then turns the car and takes off towards Kemps Corner
10.15 PM KEMPS CORNER The cops, hot on his heels, overtake the car in a jeep. They force open the car door, drag Mikhail out of the vehicle and arrest him
I. Mikhail Zaveri’s relationship with Pradeep Sood
Mikhail Zaveri is Pradeep Sood’s stepson. Sood was married twice, and Mikhail is the son of his second wife by her previous marriage to Lalit Zaveri
II. Pradeep Sood’s connection with Il Palazzo
Pradeep Sood’s sister Mridula Maluste is married to Nandan Maluste, formerly a senior bank executive and also former trustee of CRY
Incidentally, Nandan’s sister is the well-known heritage activist Anita Garware. Anita is also the founder of the Indian Heritage Society which organises the only awards for heritage in the city. Both the Malustes and Garwares live in Il Palazzo
Born Sheela Maluste, Anita changed her name to Anita Garware after her marriage to Chandrakant Garware, the son of noted industrialist and educationist Bhalchandra Digamber Garware, fondly called Abasaheb
The Times of India, July 16, 2009