8th September 2016… A Day Of Horrors

kersi-randeria-copyA Candid Interview With BPP Trustee Kersi Randeria

PT: September 8th – not a day that you are likely to forget….
Kersi Randeria: When you get physically assaulted for doing your duty, and simultaneously, a fire guts your office on the same day, it would definitely be a day I will find difficult to forget.

PT: What happened that afternoon?
Kersi Randeria: Sometime in the afternoon, I got a call from my office informing me about the fire. My staff was constantly in touch with me, reporting almost every 15 minutes. Every call simply informed me that the fire was raging and spreading further, and not coming under control. I was torn between staying for the court case and rushing back to my office.

PT: Why did you stay back?
Kersi Randeria: For two reasons – first, the Board of Trustees were informed that during the last court hearing (2nd of August, 2016) Dinshaw Mehta had created a scene in the court and tried to ensure delaying the judicial orders in the case. The Board had therefore on Tuesday (6th September, 2016) passed a resolution authorizing me to be present in the court. I’ve never taken my responsibilities lightly, so I stayed. Secondly, I knew that even if I did go to my office, all I could do was stand outside and watch the fire – not something I wished to do – especially when I knew I was needed here.

PT: Do you regret that decision?
Kersi Randeria: Most certainly! I would have been spared an assault and my community would have been spared the huge embarrassment of appearing negatively on the front page of a leading national daily!

PT: Both sides have made allegations and counter allegations. What really happened on that day?
Kersi Randeria: The advocate for Dinshaw Mehta made an oral application to the Hon’ble Court requesting that he be heard in the matter. The Court questioned him as to why a written application was not filed, as he was required to do? Despite Dinshaw’s advocates multiple requests, the Court refused to give another date or even a single day’s adjournment. The Court gave them an hour to file the application. The attempt to delay the process had obviously failed. The Mehtas were frustrated and livid. The rest, as they say, is history…

PT: What happened after the adjournment?
Kersi Randeria: Dinshaw Mehta and Hormuz were standing in the passage outside the courtroom, with a well-known goon from Gilder lane. Dinshaw had been making lewd and crude remarks, as has become his normal functioning, throughout the afternoon. Even as we walked past them, Dinshaw continued abusing Anahita Desai, and then Hormuz decided to join in. However Hormuz decided to be more graphic in his choice of words, combining lewd gestures with unbelievably crude and vulgar words about my family and me. He walked besides me as I was walking out of the building into the court compound, continuing to state things that one would be embarrassed to repeat, forget writing about them. It was at this stage that I pushed him away telling him to get out of my face. And then I had Dinshaw, literally and physically jump on my back, claw away at my face with something that felt like a solid object in his hands!

PT: Mehta says he is 70 years old and denies that he even touched you and instead insists that you repeatedly kicked Hormuz in the neck. He questions how a 77-year-old man would attack a person more than 10 years younger than him and nearly twice his size. What do you have to say to that?
Kersi Randeria: By the same logic, Dinshaw should be asked to explain why I would pick a fight with someone 25 years younger than me? Dinshaw attacked me from behind and repeatedly hit me! My glasses flew off and I found myself on the ground. The whole thing is a blur. I’m not sure whether Dinshaw pushed me or tripped me or whether I collapsed because of his weight on me. My blood pressure checked at the hospital initially was 182, and I was sweating profusely. Even after a couple of hours of rest it was quite high at about 168. That is the reason they did an ECG for me. My eye was bloodshot with very compromised vision and my arm was hurting bad and had to be relegated to a sling.

PT: What do you believe the CC TV footage will show?
Kersi Randeria: The CCTV footage will show the facts. It will show Hormuz standing outside the courtroom waiting for us, along with his father and one more tough-looking person. It will show that I pushed Hormuz away in anger and disgust. It will show Dinshaw attacking me from the back. It will show my glasses flying away. It will not show me kicking Hormuz or any such nonsense that the Mehtas keep repeating. I said the same thing last week in PT, I said the same thing to the cops and all the newspaper reporters who called me.

PT: Mumbai Mirror carried a different version. How do you explain that?
Kersi Randeria: I am talking to the journalist from Mumbai Mirror to understand the issues and to get clarifications from her. I am confident that they too will clear the allegations that were not factually correct, hopefully as prominently as they were made. As journalists they would have no reasons to take sides, is what I hope and believe. I need to give them some time to understand the issues and hopefully address them.

PT: Each side used props to create an impression of more fire than smoke? Were either of you seriously injured?
Kersi Randeria: Go speak to the hospital staff. Hormuz asked for a neck brace, an IV etc. I insisted that I had no fracture and was truly embarrassed to wear the arm sling. However, the doctors were worried as I found it difficult to straighten my arm at 90 degrees to the body. They insisted on taking numerous X-rays to conclude that I didn’t have a fracture but had badly bruised my shoulder. My high BP and profuse sweating made them perform an ECG. Both Hormuz and I were sent for a sonography and CT scan. I did it quietly and moved out. Hormuz posed with the CT scan machine and the stretcher ride! In fact, a friend of mine who was there with me found it hilarious when the photographer asked Viraf not to look at the camera but to instead look down ‘with concern’ at Hormuz! I’m grateful that my tests came clear! However, the severe injury to my eye continues to be an area of concern as it still hurts and my vision is still compromised. The Mehta camp at various points in time have kept changing their statements starting with a) Dinshaw’s finger could have accidentally poked me in the eye (said Dinshaw Mehta); b) The people who dragged me away could have hurt me in my eye (Said Hormuz Mehta); and c) I could have had conjunctivitis / some other eye infection! (Mehta Camp).
Let me state on record my eye has been injured badly and hurts and has compromised vision. I was lucky – the eye is very easy to damage and blinding a person through an injury is not unheard of. The CCTV footage will show my glasses flying off on his assaulting me!

PT: What did this ‘tamasha’ achieve?
Kersi Randeria: Two things – A huge embarrassment for the community and victory for the Mehta Camp!

PT: Victory for the Mehta Camp? How?
Kersi Randeria: Certainly! The entire community is talking about the alleged cash transaction of Rs. 25 lakhs and the charges of Cheating and Criminal Breach of Trust. Now they are no longer focused on that issue – that’s Victory No. 1. Also, the case did get adjourned for a couple of weeks – that’s Victory No. 2. And Victory No. 3: they have dragged my name into a controversy just as they did with Yazdi Desai and his wife Anahita, just as they did with Noshir Dadrawala – alleging that he gave the key to Dr. Farokh Master! Sure I pushed Hormuz and I believe that any man, woman or child will react when provoked – or should I say verbally assaulted – in a manner that is unacceptable. I did not hit him or kick him or jump on him – I just pushed him away! And yet with this pre-meditated game plan, look how much they achieved! You may have issues with the Mehta family but you can’t but admire their skills at politics and politicking! After all, as Viraf often says in the Board Room to me, their family has been in politics for 50 years!

PT: What is your takeaway from this experience?
Kersi Randeria: that it is an unequal fight when you do not have the same kind of experience in fighting or the ability to lie and/or twist the truth. Also, that you cannot allow people to scare you into withdrawing from what you are doing, particularly if you are doing what you believe to be the right thing.

PT: What now?
Kersi Randeria: My colleagues, at the BPP, or at least most of them, have been very supportive. We must go back to the basics – the Board Room and the Court Room. We cannot let a few individuals divert us. If need be, I will organize public meetings in all the baugs, show the proof that is available and playback the audio recordings that are with us. Let the community decide. It is time we took charge of our internal matters as a community and refuse to let issues be dragged out into the streets and the mainline media. We owe it to our future generations and ourselves.

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