Himani Mehta, the 14-year-old girl who lost her life in a shootout at Saujanya Apartments in Andheri yesterday, was an adopted child.
"The girl was adopted from the Mother Teresa orphanage in Vile Parle, when she was eight months old," said DCP K M M Prasanna. Ketan, an LIC agent, and his first wife Hena adopted Himani. "Heena could not conceive after a miscarriage and the couple decided to adopt. Unfortunately, she died when Himani was a toddler," said a relative of the Mehtas.
"Himani was never made to feel that she was adopted, even by her second mother, Asha. In fact, she loved Himani more than Vatsal, her own son," added the relative.
Namrata Bhadar, Ketan's first wife's cousin, had rushed to the Mehta residence as soon as she came to know about the shootout.
"It is a big shock for the family. Himani was a Std IX student of Wadia school, Andheri (W). She was a bright child," said a distraught Namrata. Harish Moralia was in the building compound when he saw five labourers entering the building around 9.30 am. He accosted them and inquired about their identity cards. Minutes later, Moralia confronted the building secretary, Deepak Patni. After a brief argument, he pressed his licensed 22 handgun to Patni's stomach.
Patni's son saw this from the sixth floor, and rushed downstairs. Moralia fired two rounds in the air to scatter the gathered crowd. The terrified residents called the police for help. Unaware of the events, Himani was returning home and was about to enter the lift. Moralia dragged her into the lift, and herded her into his third floor apartment. Residents could hear the girl screaming for help when the police finally arrived.
Around 40 minutes later, the police barged into the flat, shot Moralia in the crossfire, and found Himani lying in a pool of blood. Moralia and Himani were rushed to Cooper Hospital, where they succumbed to their injuries.