Widow of Nilesh Mitbowker, who reportedly committed suicide due to the harassment of the Mandrekar’s vows to fight for justice; Says her father-in-law also committed suicide
MORJIM: It has been nearly a month since Nilesh Mitbowker, Priya’s husband of 34 years committed suicide at Morjim. For Priya, the loss is huge as her husband, according to her police complaint, living under constant threat of Goa’s Water Resources Minister and his son, Samir Mandrekar, finally ended his life.
This was not the only suicide in her family. She has alleged that her father-in-law’s suicide was also due to Mandrekar’s family.
While this has been reported, Herald travelled to Morjim to get a firsthand account from Priya who says that both her father-in-law and her husband ended their lives in quick succession due to threats from the minister.
But she is adamant to fight and get justice for her deceased husband. According to Priya, Mandrekar and his son used to come often to their house and use abusive language and threaten to put her husband behind bars.
With two daughters, below the age of five years to look after, Priya also has bank loans to pay off, which they had taken to set up a shop for their livelihood.
“Being unemployed and not very well educated, he used to get scared and lost sleep and slowly got into the habit of drinking,” Priya, who is well-educated and has now taken up a private job following Nilesh’s death, told Herald.
Nilesh’s widow, with two beautiful daughters, says they had no clue whatsoever when tragedy struck until the day they came to know that the house the family was staying in for over 50 years, had been sold by the bhatkar to Mandrekar.
“One day, his son came with goons and started abusing us showing the papers and asking us to leave the house. Thereafter, they used to come often and threaten us and asked us to remove the small gada (tea stall) stating it is in CRZ area. We refused as that was the only source of our income,” she said.
This is when she says her father-in-law committed suicide after threats from Samir. Despite this, Priya claims, Mandrekar and his son’s atrocities on her family did not stop and he continued to harass them.
“One day, when I was away at my mother’s place, Samir came with his men and demolished the stall and being alone at the house, my husband could do nothing. During that time, Samir also physically assaulted my brother-in-law when he questioned him and threatened him with dire consequences,” she explains.
Asked whether they met Mandrekar over the issue, complaining about his son, Priya said the minister told them, “I will demolish this shop and the house and give you another place, where you can do what you want.”
However, Mandrekar never kept his word but kept threatening them till Nilesh was fed up and committed suicide by hanging himself, Priya said with tears in her eyes.
Explaining their trauma, Priya said, after the demolition, Mandrekar filed a case against the family for construction in CRZ area and for trespassing in his property and that is when Nilesh got really scared, as he had never been to police station and courts.
“Police came with summons saying Mandrekar has filed a case against you and you will have to be present for the case. We went to the court with an advocate but we don’t know how the case was in his favour. That is when Nilesh first indicated that he could commit suicide,” she said, adding that after that day, Nilesh could not sleep and kept thinking what would happen to the family.
Further, she said, that Minister Mandrekar now says he will give her 300 sq mts of land and she should leave the house. “How can we leave our old house where I have the memories of my husband?” she asks.
Priya squarely blames Mandrekar for her husband’s death stating he gave them mental tension and torture and therefore her husband committed suicide.
Neighbours in the locality were reluctant to comment on the issue when Herald approached them, as the accused is a powerful person. However, when the paper promised them they would not be named they agreed to speak.
“It was not much Mandrekar himself but his son Samir, who used to come in big cars and jeeps and threaten the family and a couple of times also physically assaulted them. His men used to come with lathis etc,” said a neighbour.
Another person recalled, “Samir used to come and use abusive language and cuss words against his (Nilesh’s) wife which he could not take any further.”
“What would someone do when his only livelihood is taken away from him? How can he survive with wife and two kids?” asked another neighbour.
Vinod Palyekar, a panch, has come forward to pay off Priya’s loans but also wants her to fight for justice and bring the culprits to book. “If this is happening in the chief minister’s constituency what can be the fate of other people in the State? We will fight for Nilesh and see to it that his wife gets justice,” he says.
Palyekar is demanding that chief minister immediately sack Mandrekar for a fair and transparent probe.
Verla-Canca Sarpanch Milton Marques too demanded Mandrekar’s resignation saying, “You never know Mandrekar is illiterate and what level he can stoop to. If he continues to harass Priya now what would happen to the two daughters?”