“I’m not scared of anything,” says 65-year-old Fathima. On Monday, she was assaulted by a robber and branded with cigarettes at her house in Netaji Nagar in Tondiarpet.
Fathima was alone in her one-bedroom house at Netaji Nagar, next to a mosque, when the assault happened.
Her day is normally all about cooking food for herself and doing the daily prayers.
But on Monday, she had an unknown visitor. “Around 5 pm, I was dozing and suddenly someone entered the house. I thought it was a neighbour, but the man came inside and suddenly put his hand on my mouth and pushed me towards the bed. I was trying to tell him that he can take all the money and jewellery, but don't kill me,” says Fathima.
In a few minutes, Fathima lost consciousness. When she woke up she discovered that her hands were covered with black burn marks.
“It is still paining,” she says sitting on her hospital bed in Stanley Hospital, next to her husband, Mustafa, who looks visibly upset.
Around 7 pm that day, Fathima gained consciousness and realized that the door was locked from outside. "I repeatedly called my neighbours, hoping someone will come and help me. One of my neighbours heard my voice and called the caretaker who broke open the door. He called the ambulance and informed the police,” says Fathima.
In Fathima’s house, her bed still has blood stains, her cupboard is open and everything in disarray. “I will be staying with her only now onwards, I had left to Trichy just four days ago,” says Mustafa who runs a whole sale shop in Trichy. He adds his wife has been staying alone for more than 20 years, while he lives in Chennai 10 days a month. But in all these years, nothing like this has happened, says Mustafa.
Fathima had shifted to this new house only three months ago. “I’m sure this was done by someone we know, it is either a neighbour or a relative,” she says.
A senior police officer said that they had not arrested anyone in the case and the investigation was still on. “One person entered the house and branded her hands and forehead using cigarettes. A complaint has been filed at RK Nagar police station under section 294 of IPC (Voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery),” he said.
Fathima feels her only mistake was to have left the door open. “I always keep the door open, but I should not have done that. About 2.5 sovereigns of gold was stolen, but police said my money is still there in the cupboard,” says Fathima.
Mohammad Arib, the caretaker of the house and a mosque next to it, said that this was the first such incident in the area. “I broke open the door and her hands and forehead were bleeding, so I immediately called the ambulance. She used to keep the door open and sit. Someone who knew her, must have done it. At that time, the neighbours had gone to work and some were sleeping, so no one heard anything,” he said.
Asked about the security in the area, he said, “Till Jayalalithaa was alive, policemen used to keep taking rounds of the area. After she passed away, no one cares.”