AN ILLITERATE man, Chunnu Miyan Shaikh, depended on a friend or a family member to write for him. About a month ago, the 68-year-old, who worked as a driver for a Chembur resident for 17 years, asked his nephew to pen an account of being continuously harassed by his employer. But little did Mainuddin Chand Patel know that he was writing his uncle’s suicide note.
On Tuesday, police booked Shaikh’s employer for allegedly abetting his suicide, on the basis of four handwritten notes. They added that local residents found Shaikh’s body, hanging from a tree at Powai, in the evening of February 2.
As it happened, police did not find any documents on Shaikh when they found his body and waited for a relative to come forward for identification. On February 3, Shaikh’s son, Akramali, got a call from a guard posted at gate number 4 of L&T, telling him that he had found his father’s driver’s licence along with some handwritten notes.
Akramali, in his statement to police, said his father had left his Govandi home in the morning of February 2, saying he was going to work. “I went to Powai with a friend and got the documents from the guard. We read the letters and waited for the 24-hour duration since he left the house to get over to lodge a missing complaint. We went to Deonar police station, but they sent us to Powai as the notes were found in their jurisdiction,” Akramali further stated.
Police then asked Akramali to identify a man from a picture, whose body was found in Powai the previous evening. “My father had hanged himself from a tree by a dupatta,” said Akramali. However, he never expected his illiterate father to leave four handwritten notes behind. But, he added, the notes contained a “long-time peeve” of his father’s.
“My father’s salary was Rs 15,000, but he was never paid the full amount by his employer, who told him that he will get the remainder when he left the job. But he never let my father leave and kept insisting that he stay till he found a new driver,” Akramali told police.
In the notes too, he added, his father had mentioned the same details of the harassment as he had verbally described to him. “He said his employer never gave him his full salary. Whenever he asked for an increment, he would threaten to sack him. But he would call anytime in the day and never even paid overtime,” stated Akramali.
According to police, Akramali said Shaikh had asked Patel to write the notes about a month ago. “My father often talked about the salary and said he did not have money, but we never expected him to take such an extreme step,” added Akramali.
Shaikh’s body was sent for a post-mortem at the Rajawadi Hospital, after which the family conducted his last rites. Later, the family also handed over the notes that were found with the watchman, following which police registered a case.