The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Terror stalks safety sieve

'I know what the Banka family is going through right now. Because the same tragedy had befallen me' Our servant brutally murdered my wife and five-year-old son' Thirteen years have passed and it still haunts me'

Vijay Khaitan ' one of the residents of Mansarovar, the 10-storeyed housing estate that has witnessed five killings in 29 years ' recounted that fateful day hours after his two neighbours were found murdered.

Sitting in the same room in which he used to play with his son, he said: 'It was September 5, 1992. I entered the bedroom, only to see my wife Rashmi and son Rahul lying in a pool of blood.

'My two daughters, Priyanka and Payel, had returned from school before me and found the door ajar. Inside, they found their mother and brother dead. I rushed home from my office on Ganesh Chandra Avenue, only to find their bodies' Rashmi fought with our servant Rajiv Tiwari till the very end... Police went to Bihar but failed to arrest him. The case is still lying unsolved.'

Twelve years before that, the Camac Street housing estate had witnessed another tragedy. Housewife Neelam Jain was allegedly murdered by her in-laws in 1980.

In two of the killings, Satyendra Singh, the gateman of the housing estate, saw the killer servants leaving the premises. 'I had not found anything wrong when I saw Rajiv walking out through the gate. Similarly, nothing seemed abnormal in Pancham's behaviour when I saw him walking down the driveway with a yellow plastic bag in his hand,' said Singh.

On Monday, the residents of Mansarovar were in a state of shock. 'I have seen the deaths of my neighbours, including that of the Banka couple. It is scary. I have requested the other residents to help tighten security here, so that such tragedies do not recur,' said Mahendra Poddar.

'They (the Bankas) were so nice. We had never heard anyone shouting in their apartment,' said next-door neighbour Ashok Jhunjhunwala.

'She (Sarda) came to our room at around 9 pm on Sunday and spoke to us,' said Gourav, Jhunjhunwala's son. That was the last time the couple was seen alive.

On Monday morning, the couple left the building for the last time, their bodies wrapped in plastic and headed for a post-mortem. Family members and neighbours lined the staircase, mute spectators to the latest tragedy in Mansarovar.

Anxiety mingled with anger as some residents protested the security sieve. N.K. Arora, executive member of Mansarovar Maintenance Committee, said: 'I have repeatedly stressed the need to increase security measures in the building and issue identity cards to servants. But few occupants have followed these guidelines.'

S.K. Khandelwal, another resident, said unknown people enter and leave the building at will, without anyone at the gate checking who they were and where they were headed.

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