The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sarangi keeps neighbours, guards out

Thane, April 26: The windows of Praveen Mahajan’s second-floor flat are forbiddingly barred. The door, too, stays firmly shut. No one is welcome, not even the security men standing guard outside round the clock.

Sarangi has been cooped up inside the Jinja Apartments flat since husband Praveen pumped bullets into brother Pramod’s abdomen last week. So are her 15-year-old twins. They are incommunicado, even to people living in the nine-storey building.

Outside, the complex is milling with security personnel. There are numerous policemen and a 25-member platoon of the state reserve police force, all standing at attention to prevent any retaliatory strike on Praveen’s family.

“It’s been like this since news broke out that Praveen had shot his brother. Police turned up soon after. The entrance to the building was sealed and the place has turned into a fortress,” says Mahesh Phadnis, a resident of the building.

A teenager, Dattatreya, who’s stepped out to pick up some groceries, says he hasn’t seen either the mother or the twins since Saturday. “They are inside but they refuse to open the door even for policemen guarding their flat,” he says.

But he knows the twins, he says. Everybody around knows them because of their famous relative, he explains.

“They are decent but don’t mix much these days. That may be because of their board exams. In fact, their family is pretty cordial. They don’t get into squabbles with other neighbours.”

Phadnis says he had been so shocked after hearing the news of the shooting on TV that he had immediately rushed to Praveen’s flat.

“I rang the doorbell of their flat and Sarangi’s brother opened it. He said his sister and the kids had left for Pramod Mahajan’s house. But later we came to know she hadn’t gone anywhere and was inside all the while.”

Most residents say they get to know of the daily developments only through the media. Some expressed surprise Sarangi had not made any effort to meet her husband though media had reported she was keen to look up her brother-in-law.

“Praveen was a bit reclusive. He didn’t have many friends, though he’s lived here for more than a decade. But he was pretty cordial to everyone,” another resident says.

A local BJP leader says Praveen gave up his construction business some years ago because of diabetes. “Chandu (Praveen’s nickname) used to get very tired. He was very interested in politics and accompanied Pramod and BJP leader Gopinath Munde on election campaigns.”

But, of late, he had become a regular at the Shubha beer bar. “He was a teetotaller earlier. I remember the day, after the second Assembly election of Gopinath Munde, when friends suggested we get beer and Pramod gave a bottle to Chandu, his first sip. Relations between the brothers were better then.”

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