Gruesome assault on Shamim Modi in her own house at Vasai (A fact finding report)

Mukta Srivastava and Lena went visited Shamim Modi in vasai . Here is their fact finding report.
We must come together to really put pressure on the state and police to
take prompt action to arrest the accused, in the first place.

A fact finding report

Date: 31 July 2009


Shamim Modi who is presently teaching at the Tata Institute of Social
Sciences (TISS) as an Assistant Professor, is an activist of Shramik Adivasi
Sanghtan, which has been working in Betul, Harda and other districts of
Madhya Pradesh. Shamim is married to Anurag Modi who is also an activist
with Shramik Adivasi Sanghatan. Her work has focused against the atrocities
and injustice meted out to adivasis, mill workers and unorganized laborers
in the area. For the last many years, due to the nexus between officials and
the industrial lobby in Madhya Pradesh, she has been harassed, jailed, told
to leave from 8 different districts in M.P. There have also been a number of
attempts on her life (this is evident from the various press notes, fact
finding reports, FIRs lodged by Shamim and court cases as well as
information shared by Shamim and Anurag Modi. Attached is another fact
finding report by various human right activists when Shamim was jailed and
bail was denied to her in February 2009.

Now a serious and heinous attempt to kill her was made not in M.P. but in
Vasai at her home on 23rd June 2009 in the afternoon. A two-person
fact-finding team, consisting of Mukta Srivastava and Leena (went to Vasai
on 28th June 2009). This is the report of our findings.


1. Meeting with Shamim in Prakash Nursing Home
We went to meet Shamim around 1.15 pm in the Prakash Nursing Home. We found Shamim lying on the bed with bandages on her throat, arms, fingers, scalp and stomach. She welcomed us in a spirited manner despite her condition.

When we asked about her husband Anurag, she replied that he has gone to the
police station. We asked Shamim if she would be able to tell us the incident
in detail. She agreed and started narrating the incident from the beginning.
Shamim has been living in a rented accommodation at Vasai for last one
month. The building has a watchman named Rakesh Nepali who is about 25-27 years old.
A. The attack
On 23rd July between 2.30-2.45 pm, Shamim was sleeping in the bedroom which is in the corner of her house beyond the hall, kitchen, bathroom, and her
child’s room. Her son had gone for his tuition classes.
Rakesh, the watchman of the building knocked on the door. When she opened
the door, he said that he had come to see if the tanks in the house are
filling with water. She allowed him to enter the house as he was known to
her and she was comfortable with him. But quite unlike earlier times when he
would visit the house and the door used to be kept open, this time he closed
the main door immediately on entering the house. Still she did not doubt
anything as she thought maybe he had closed it unconsciously.
He entered the bedroom which has a glass window that opens towards a creek
at the back. The windows were shut, of which one window was made of net. He
checked the water in one of the tanks which was outside and above the
bathroom and which had a low water level. He then asked to check the other
tank which was inside the bedroom. Shamim told him that there was no need to do that as the tank was full and it had no problem. But he insisted on
checking the tank in the bedroom, saying that there was a connection between
the two water tank lines, and to repair the first one he had to see the
second one which was in the bedroom.
He caught her unaware and grabbed Shamim’s neck from behind and hit on her head twice with the baton which he was carrying as watchman. She started
bleeding. She then ran to the window and shouted, “Save me.” He hit her
again twice on her head.
Shamim having a presence of mind and not panicking, thought that this man
has come to either rape her or kill her. She told herself that at any she had to survive, and not succumb to the injury or faint. She said that at that moment she separated her mind from her body.
She tried to snatch the baton and broke it into two. In the process of
tussle, he hit her on the finger, which was almost broken. She fell on the
bed; he grabbed her hair and pulled her head. Then he immediately took out a
saw (aari) from his pocket and slit her throat which started bleeding
profusely. Shamim was still fighting and stayed alert. She started engaging
him in conversation so that he wouldn’t be able to think. She asked him why
he was doing this, did he want money, if so she would give him all that she
He was emphatic that he did not want any money. Then she again asked what
he wanted but he did not say anything. Then he pulled her nighty and she
feared that he was going to rape her. She said, “Bhaiya aap mere bete ke
itane accha dost ho, aur aap mera balatkar karne ja rahe ho, aap mere bacche
jaise ho.” But he had something else in mind and not rape, pulled her nighty
up and slit her stomach

Shamim again asked him, “Bhaiya, paise le loo agar tumhe chahiye,” she kept
saying this to engage him in talk and to divert his mind. Then he said ok
give me money. Shamim asked him to take her to the hall where her purse was
in a cupboard which was unlocked. She took out the purse and handed over
only Rs. 2500 to him though she had about Rs. 5000 in her purse. In the
process, she snatched the aari, hid it inside the purse and kept it in the
cupboard. She again asked him why was he doing this to her if he was not
interested in money. He said, “Bandook nikalkar kahani khatam kar doon kya?”
Shamim saw him being restless and walking in and out of the room, and his
mind not working. He asked her to give him the house key. She told him the
key is with the neighbor in flat 201. He became most restless and nervous.
Then she told him to put her in her son’s room as she knew that this room
could not be locked from the outside. He just dumped her in the room and she
immediately locked herself inside.
He then fled, leaving his sandals behind and bolting the main door from the
outside. Shamin came out of the room after he had left, called the neighbor
through the intercom and told them to open the door.
She cried for help but the neighbors, mostly women, were very scared when
they looked at Shamim’s state. They did not have courage to even to tie her
blood-soiled hair. On the contrary, they were crying and were frightened.
Shamim phoned her parents who stay in Vasai itself, and they admitted her in
the Prakash Nursing Home.
Shamim is confident that this was a politically motivated attempt to murder
her, and the ex-Minister, Mr. Kamal Patel and Mr. Natwar Patel from Sawmill
Owners Association are involved. Shamim has been working for the rights of
the mill workers and has many times come under threat in this regard. She
believes these people have a hand in this attack.

B. The backdrop of the incident as told by Shamim and Anurag
Rakesh, the watchman of her building has been very popular among the
residents of the building. Many families and the children in the building
had familiar comfort with him. He never raised his voice or misbehaved with
anyone. So no one ever doubted him. Both Rakesh and her son Palash had very
cordial relations and used to play together. Rakesh used to collect all the
information regarding Shamim and her family from her son. He found out that
her husband Anurag had gone to Madhya Pradesh and would not come back soon.
Between 19th and 22nd July, he visited some of her immediate neighbors on
the same floor under the pretext that he needed to phone, etc. He found out
that the male members of some of the houses of the floor were out of
station. He also found out that Shamim was alone with her son. He found out
when Palash her son goes to school or tuition.
On 19th July at around 9 pm at night, he visited Shamim and asked if he
could use the phone. At that time her son had gone to the dhobi for
collecting clothes. Shamim knew him so happily allowed him to use the
telephone, which was kept in the hall itself near the main door. He kept
talking for about 15 min. He kept the main door open all along.
However later when police tried to track the phone call from Tata telecom
company, it was found out that he was just pretending to phone but no phone
call was made during that time.

2. Talk with neighbors

We went to visit the residential society where Shamim has been living and
talked with one of the immediate neighbors. We found out that Rakesh had won the confidence of everyone in the society, and if his sandals were not found
outside Shamim’s house that day, no one would have believed that Rakesh
could ever do this.
More importantly, we found out that even the neighbors believe that it was
not a case of robbery. This conclusion was made based on observation of the
house and that of other neighbors and the fact that even Shamim did not wear
any gold, etc, which may prompt him to do such heinous crime for money.
3. Anurag’s information
Anurag Modi who was in MP due to a court case came back to Vasai on
the 25thof July. We met him after he came back to the hospital from
the police
station. According to Anurag, he went to give his statement to the police
but, to his surprise, the police had already recorded a statement on his
behalf and wanted Anurag to sign on it. Police is somehow trying to make
this incident as a case of robbery which it is not. Anurag told the police
that he will make his own statement the police will have to admit it.
He also sent a SMS on 30th that the police have fudged the statement by
Shamim to make it a robbery case.
4. Lapses by the Security agency
There is no identification data kept by the security agency on Rakesh, such
as his real name, address, photographs, etc. This is sheer lapse on the part
of security agency.
5. The police investigation
Fortunately, Shamim’s brother who visited her when she came to stay at
Vasai, had taken photographs of her house, building, others and also the
watchman. This helped the police in their investigation into the matter.
The police have found out that Rakesh has been born and brought up in
Dombivali, near Mumbai and his family was staying there but recently they
shifted to Nepal, except her brother who is married to a Maharashtrian
woman. Rakesh was in his house till 25th July, 2 days after the assault, and
then left for Nepal.
The Police have found out that the watchman hid his identity by giving wrong
name. His real name is not Rakesh Nepali but Jang Abrader.
This clearly shows the lackadaisical attitude of Police that despite the
fact that Rakesh was in Thane till 25th July the police could not arrest him.
The statement given by Shamim’s brother to the police has been
misinterpreted as a robbery case when the fact was Shamim offered him the
money just to divert his mind.
• In our perception there seems to be a motivation to kill her other
than a robbery in this case.
• It may be politically motivated knowing Shamim’s history and
background, and her struggle for justice for the marginalized and against
the powerful and the state.
• There are serious lapses on the part of the security agency.
• The police’s attitude is lackadaisical and, to simplify the matter,
the police is out to prove it is a case of robbery.
• This is yet again a violent attack on the human right defenders in
a democratic society like ours.
This incident and attack on Shamim’s life is shocking.
We condemn such gruesome act and demand
- The accused should be brought to the book immediately.
- A CBI probe should be conducted on the incident to expose those behind
this incident and they should also be brought to the book.
- Probe the lapses on the part of the security agency and take legal
action against it. Stricter regulation should be made for the security
agencies to protect the life and property of the residents.

Mukta and Lena

National Alliance of Peoples' Movements


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