This Article is From Mar 19, 2010

Mumbai man kills teenage neighbour, is shot dead by police

Mumbai: Altercations between neighbours living in close proximity are commonplace. But one such incident turned tragic when a Mumbai man shot and killed his teenager neighbour on Thursday.

The victim, 14-year-old Himani Mehta, was taken hostage by her neighbour Harish Moraliya and then shot dead allegedly over a dispute in their housing society.

The bigger tragedy, Himani had nothing to do with the dispute.

"The girl had just returned from school. He told the guard not to let her in. We said don't harass her let her go. She entered the building and was walking away. He grabbed her, put her into the lift and locked her inside his house," said an eyewitness.

It was the end of one a fight and the beginning of another.

Maroliya had been fighting with his neighbours over carpentry work that a resident above him was doing.

Angry with the society supporting his neighbour, he fired his license revolver in the air, then took Himani hostage.

"He showed the gun at my father. I ran and dragged my father away. He took the girl and went into the lift. Then we called the police," said Ronnel Patni, eyewitness.

What happened then was nothing short of a filmy scene.

"We could hear the girl screaming from the third floor flat. Our ACP tried negotiating with the Harish Moraliya. We told him if he let her go we will not harm him. Then we heard a bullet being fired inside. The girl continued to scream. Then we heard two more bullets. The girl stopped screaming. We broke open the door and entered. Moraliya fired at us. Two of our men got injured. Those behind fired from our AK 47s. We found the girl lying there. His wife was hiding in the next room," said Police Officer involved in the incident.

The bullet holes mark the fire fight between the police and Maroliya. The blood spots inside Maroliya's home mark the spot where Himani died.

Now both her family and that of Maroliya's have to grapple with the almost meaningless bloodshed.

The one question that will continue to haunt them: Why them?