It was a regular sleepy afternoon in a relatively crimefree neighbourhood of Grant Road. Not very far from where I grew up in Charni road. The kind of building, I spent my entire childhood in, where people live in harmony, with some petty fights, here and there, but one man took the neighbourhood tension, to a whole new level on Friday afternoon, when he went on a bloody stabbing spree, right outside his house that ended in 3 people dead and 2 injured, one of whom is fighting for her life at the Harkishondas Hospital, even as we speak.
The accused is an unsuspecting regular middle class man in his 50s – the kinds you will regularly see in that area – men with smalltime shops, sporting a receding hairline, wearing formal shirts over cotton pants, and keeping their simple mobile phones in the shirt’s upper pockets. Basically, someone who you will never feel terrified of.
54 year old Chetan Ratanshi Gala fit this mundane description to the T, but his pathology was a thousand times more savage and diabolical. Of course, his unsuspecting neigbours learnt about this the hard way, only when he went on a killing spree yesterday, with a kitchen knife at Parvati Mansion – a rickety 70 year old building that sits uncomfortably juxtaposed between South Mumbai’s imposing highrises, housing SOBO elites, the city’s fast-paced development and its old world charm.
This horrific incident was caught on camera and it shows Chetan Gala violently stabbing 5 of his neighbours that include 2 senior citizens – a 73 year old man and his 70 year old wife and an 18 year old girl, all of them now died. The girl’s mother is critical and fighting for her life.
Picture for referrential purpose only
We have this uncut video from a source in the neighbourhood, but we can not show it here. If enough of you follow us on Twitter on @ronakkotecha, then it’s a risk we are willing to take. We will post it there if we see there is an audience. Otherwise, use your imagination or wait till someone sends it to you on good ol’ Whatsapp. In both cases, viewer discretion is strongly advised.
Now, you may want to sit down for what I am going to tell you next.
According to the police, Chetan was mad at his neighbour for inciting his wife, Aruna, to leave him and go away. He had been unemployed for a while now, and his family had abandoned him. Yes, his family had cut ties with him and was living just three buildings away, at the house of Chetan’s father – totally unaware of the massacre that their man had unleashed on his own neighbours.
Chetan was an introvert. He hardly interacted with anyone in society. But he did blame his neighbourhood couple, especially the 70 year old Ila Mestry, for inciting his wife to leave him. And this is how he exacted his revenge – by stabbing her ruthlessly in broad daylight till she was no longer breathing.
But it’s not as cut and dry as you think, The entire incident unfolded pretty much like a horrific crime show we watch on OTT these days. It was sudden, yet planned, unnerving and absolutely bone-chilling. It’s the stuff that nightmares are made of.
And we have an eyewitness account – a neighbour who didn’t just see this deeply disturbing visual unfold in front of his eyes but also saw his 10 year old son come dangerously close to being killed. More on that later, but here’s what Jignesh Shah saw.
“On Friday afternoon around 3 pm, everything was normal. Just like it is every day. The day was like any other for 72 year old Jayendrabhai Mestry, and his 70 year old wife Illa Mestry 70 who had just finished lunch and were simply sitting outside their house in the shared balcony ….Totally unaware of the terror that was going to befall them. They had no idea what is going to happen and were completely taken by shock when Chetan just came out of his house with a knife in his hand and before anyone could react, he started attacking his immediate neighbours — Jayebdra bhai and Ila Ben. The old couple was obviously no match for a 54 year old healthy middle-aged man who used his full force to easily overpower the old couple.
Chetan was anyway quite angry with Ila ben for instigating his wife, so he first started mercilessly stabbing her and then both of them with a large kitchen knife. As per some eyewitness accounts, he stabbed them more than 10 times, leaving no chance for them to survive. Every second was crucial, and he was taking their breath away, one stab at time, but it all happened in a flash, without a moments notice.
The old couple started bleeding profusely. Hearing their cries, some people had started gathering below the building, and a 55 year old domestic help, Prakash Waghmare, who was sleeping nearby, rushed to their help and even tried to intervene. But instead of saving the old couple, he almost got stabbed himself and received knife injuries. However, he managed to save himself holding up a pillow and suffered a minor injury on his stomach.
But even as people had started gathering screaming, shooting, and figuring out what to do, Chetan was in no mood to stop this bloodbath.
Hearing the commotion, when Jignesh Shah’s 10-year-old-son Aarav came down to the second floor, where Chetan Gala lives, he grabbed him as well, but thankfully he let go off the kid, immediately but by now a huge crowd had gathered below the building.
Just then, two first-floor residents — 42 year old Snehal Brahmbhatt, and her daughter Jeniel, who was only 18 years old, decided to jump in to rescue the old couple.
Jeniel and Chetan’s daughter studied in the same college, while Chetan’s wife Aruna and Snehal were also good friends. Snehal and Jienel’s only fault was that the mother-daughter duo ran up to intervene when Chetan was stabbing the senior citizen couple. But far from saving the two, Snehal and Jienel also became the victims and got stabbed by Chetan. 18 year old Jeniel was fatally injured and died shortly after. As per Rajesh Mohite, a neighbour and a social worker, “After being stabbed, Snehal almost rolled down the staircase and was grievously injured, but a neighbour came to her aid.” She is currently in a serious condition, and her family is praying that she survives. She hasn’t been informed that her 18 year old daughter is no more. Infact, Jeinel and the senior citizen couple – the Mestrys, who Chetan stabbed first – were all declared dead on arrival at the hospital. The domestic help Prakash Waghmare is being treated at the govt run Nair hospital.
By now, a huge crowd had below the building had swelled. They were screaming, swearing, watching, and capturing this horrific incident on their mobile phones. Again, we can not show you the video here due to Youtube’s policies, but if enough of you follow us on Twitter on @ronakkotecha, then we will upload the uncut version there.
Police said that the residents had finally gathered some courage to retaliate with cricket bats and stumps, after which Chetan fled the scene and locked himself up in his house. This is what Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone II Dr Abhinav Deshmukh said, “We received a call around 3.30 pm about a man stabbing his neighbours. By the time we reached the spot, he had locked himself in his house and refused to come out.” The drama continued for another 20 minutes, after which the cops threatened to break open the door.” “He then came out and was overpowered and brought to the DB Marg police station,” The DCP said that Chetan accused his neighbours of indulging in rumour mongering due to which his entire family left him.
As per the police, Chetan was jobless, which caused disputes in the family. Investigation has revealed that he bought a knife four days ago, which the family had taken away, after which he bought a new one, allegedly for self-defence.
Chetan is a married man with a family who is now in a state of shock but at least lucky to be alive. Unlike his neighbours, many of whom lost their lives.
Chetan has a 25 year old son and three daughters, two of whom are in their teens, and one is married. The family moved out two months ago, leaving an unstable Chetan behind, who clearly was planning to take revenge.
His act has now destroyed 2 families completely.
According to the police, Chetan Gala used to run a lingerie shop in Bhuleshwar but has given his property on rent. His son Deepen works in a small shop, also in Bhuleshwar. The family moved into the Parvati building some 15 years ago and today the family’s inner turmoil has resulted in a blood curdling and terrifying murder spree that we are sure is going to haunt this neighbourhood for years to come.
Chetan was produced in the Girgaon Metropolitan Magistrate court on Saturday.
What are your thoughts on this disturbing kahani. For me, it has rattled me because i can totally identify with the victims here. In fact, I feel the victims and the accused are someone I know. Just the kind of people I grew up around. We all think we know people we know each other. We know what’s going on in the mind of someone we know. But it is stories like these that make us question everything and everyone we believe in. It shakes up the very foundation of our understanding of a person, his behaviour, his psyche, and the extent to which he can go if his buttons are pushed. Who could have thought that petty gossip,, unwanted meddling in a neighbour’s life and mindless rumour mongering could become so toxic that a family leaves a man alone who acts out his frustration in such an irreversibly gruesome manner? Who could have anticipated this and as always who could tell if this is the only reason why Chetan Ratanshi Gala, an everyday man who could be walking past you every second, would commit such an extraordinary crime. So, is there more than what meets the eye? That’s the big question.
But for now, let us know your thoughts in the comments.