Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Lonely Community Elders Beware: BPP Press Release

We were all told in our youth that relationships are pre decided in heaven and that we are born in a family and continue in that family till our very end. Unfortunately today we are facing a situation where relationships are being created in hospitals and homes for the aged, where asset seekers are lurking around to find a sick and lonely elder with assets and no encumbrances to suddenly embrace as their "dear Maasi" or "Maasa". While this may sound un-fair, unethical and impossible in our upright honest Parsi community, recent events have shown that members of our own community are prepared to stoop to any level to grab assets and try and declare themselves as relatives of the lonely old and feeble, with an attempt to become legal guardians or heirs, illegally, in order to take over their estate and even their residential premises.

We are highlighting a recent incident that has really shocked us and prompted us to caution our community members on this unfortunate trend.

The Case: An elderly single, divorced lady, Miss Mani Dhunjishaw Bharucha (86 years old) living all alone at D-Block, Cusrow Baug was admitted to the Parsi General Hospital in December, 2012 by a concerned neighbour, Mr. Farrokh Ragina, who was also looking after her and had visited her on several occasions in the hospital during her 3 month stay. During her stay in hospital she was also visited by trustee Mrs. Armaity Tirandaz as a goodwill gesture. Miss Bharucha passed away at 4.45pm on the 12th of March, 2013 and the body was brought to Doongerwadi at 9.15 pm in the BPP hearse.

The TWIST: Immediately on hearing of her death, one Parsi, introducing himself as Mr. Mehernosh Fitter, a resident of Dadar, and a self professed social worker rushed to the hospital and decided to stake his claim to the body of the late Miss. Bharucha, claiming that she was his aunt (kakiji) and that her body should be handed over to him as he was her relative and the "rightful heir". What is even more disconcerting is that, at the hospital on the 12th of March, Mr. Fitter snatched "Form 4" from Mr. Farrokh Ragina in front of the superintendant of the hospital and signed himself as the claimant of the body below Mr. Ragina’s signature which in fact was already released to Mr. Ragina by the hospital staff and not to Mr. Fitter (Enclosed Form 4 issued by the hospital, to show Mr. Fitter’s appended signature below Mr. Ragina’s signature). In fact, it was Mr. Ragina who is a resident of Cusrow Baug and close family friends from childhood of Ms. Bharucha, who had her admitted to the Parsi General Hospital, in the first instance. Mr. Fitter, it would seem, tried to claim the body of Ms. Bharucha, for his own reasons. Since the stakes were high, and probably Mr. Fitter had done his homework, he went and lodged a complaint that night on 12th March with the Gamdevi Police Station, where he claimed that she was his aunt (kakiji) and the body should be handed over to him. Mr. Fitter went on to get his name and relationship filled into "Form 5" (for taking possession of body) at Gamdevi Police Station giving his residence address as "D-4, first floor, Cusrow Baug, Colaba", which is in fact Miss Mani Bharucha’s residence, and showing her relationship to him as "kakiji". (Enclosed is a copy of the said Form 5 showing the encircled statement made by Mr. Fitter) Mr. Fitter is a well known resident at Dadar Parsi Colony, but boldly made statements in writing, assuming that there was no one to challenge him and that the Trustees of the B.P.P. would not bother or be aware of the facts and incidents that occurred.

This is where he was wrong, since the Trustees of the B.P.P. saw through his game and immediately decided to act and thwart Mr. Fitter’s plans to masquerade as the nephew of a deceased person. Mr. Fitter was so angered, that he lodged a formal complaint with the police against two B.P.P. Trustees, Chairman Mr. Dinshaw Mehta and Trustee Mrs. Armaity Tirandaz for not handing over the body to him. Luckily, all our trustees stood their ground and did not allow themselves to be threatened. It needs to mentioned here that the Chairman was in Delhi on 11th and 12th March attending a two day seminar/workshop of National Conference of Minority Commission of all the States having state level commissions.

BPP’S Concern: How could Mr. Fitter claim that Ms. Bharucha was his aunt, when she had no blood relations who cared for her, during the latter half of her lifetime? Trustee, Mrs. Armaity Tirandaz, knowing Mr. Fitter well, was vigilant and moved swiftly to prevent Mr. Fitter to take possession of the body as he wrongly claimed that the body of the deceased was that of his aunt, when in fact that was not the case. Hence, the Doongerwadi staff was instructed by the Trustees to place the body in the morgue as a "Lavarish" corpse, and as per the rules followed over the years insert a public notice in the Bombay Samachar calling upon any genuine relatives to claim the body for doing the religious rites, and in absence of any such relative complying or coming forward it would imply that the BPP would undertake all the 4 day after life prayers for the deceased. This could only happen once the body was cleared with due police formalities as there was no other real blood relation left who could claim the body. That night the police were informed to await the arrival of the Chairman Mr. Dinshaw Mehta from Delhi and Mrs. Tirandaz and the Doongerwadi staff were instructed by the police to move the Senior Inspector of Malabar Hill Police Station in the morning, and the body was allowed to be kept that night in the mortuary.

The next morning on 13th March, the BPP Chairman along with Trustee Mrs. Tirandaz and the Manager Mr. Jimmy Poonawalla met the Senior Inspector of Malabar Hill Police Station along with Mr. Fitter and Mr. Phiroze Kotwal resident of adarbad on Hughes Road (who was brought by Mr. Fitter). Mr. Fitter handed over a letter of complaint dated 13-3-2013 now showing his correct and factual Dadar residential address (contrary to the Cusrow Baug address he stated in Form 4 at the Gamdevi Police Station), asking the Senior Inspector to lodge an FIR against Dinshaw Mehta and Armaity Tirandaz for not handing over the body of his alleged "kakiji" to him and requesting Senior Inspector to direct the Trustees to hand over the dead body of his aunt to him reiterating that she was in fact his Blood Relative. He also claimed that threats were given to him and if any undue accident or death happened to him then to hold the above two persons responsible.

The Senior Inspector being worldly wise asked Mr. Fitter for proof to show his blood relationship-like his name on Miss Bharucha’s ration card or electric bill or bank account or any other proof to show the blood relationship. Obviously Mr. Fitter could not produce any cogent proof. The Senior Inspector was informed that the Chairman buy cheap cialis online was in Delhi for two days, 11th and 12th March attending a National Conference of the Minority Commissions of all States. After further queries which Mr. Fitter was unable to clarify, he admonished Mr. Fitter, that as he could not prove any relationship with Miss. Bharucha, hence he could not be given possession of her body and informed our staff to do the religious rites as per Parsi custom and instructed his staff to advise Gamdevi Police Station to release the body in the custody of the Trustees for her last funeral rites. The next day, by her letter dated 14th March to Gamdevi Police station, Mrs. Tirandaz requested the Senior Inspector there to release the body to BPP for the ceremony to be performed at our Towers of Silence on 15th March at 2 pm.

As per our BPP protocol, Ms. Bharucha’s funeral was announced to be held on Friday the 15th March, 2013 at 2.00 p.m. in the Mumbai Samachar. No blood relations were present at the funeral, except for a few friends of t
he deceased. Mr. Fitter did not attend any of the 4 days after life ceremonies which were performed at the Godavara Agiary, in Fort. Mr. Fitter was conspicuous by his absence for all these ceremonies, except he was, as expected, present for the funeral ceremony (paidast) performed in the lower bungli at the Doongerwadi complex in an attempt to bolster his false claim of being a blood relation of Miss. Mani Bharucha.

The BPP’s Principled Stand against Mr. Mehernosh Fitter: In the case of Miss. Mani Bharucha, she lived as the sole occupant in a Cusrow Baug flat which can be confirmed by her neighbours and friends residing in Cusrow Baug. Mr. Fitter knowing this, made a false declaration that she was his kakiji and giving his address on Form 5 of the Gamdevi Police Station, stating that he lived in Cusrow Baug, when in fact in his letter to the Malabar Hill Police Station, he gave his actual Dadar Parsi Colony residential address.

Clearly, Mr. Fitter was trying to create a paper trial, which in this instance he was unable to do, thanks to the prompt action taken by Mrs. Tirandaz and the ever vigilant Doongerwadi staff and the BPP staff of the Wadia Committee, who in fact went and put a double lock and placed a security guard outside the Cusrow Baug Flat in order to prevent trespass into the flat.

B.P.P.’s Appeal:

Importantly, BPP requests those lonely, and elderly single persons living alone to be careful of such persons, whose sole aim it would seem is to first befriend old and unsuspecting persons, show as if they were assisting them, gain their confidence and finally create a scenario and paper trail to usurp all their belongings and assets including their property.