2 found dead in gutted guesthouse, neighbours allege suicide pact

Two men from Kerala were found dead inside a burning guesthouse in Dongri in South Mumbai on Wednesday, police said. Neighbours allege that the men committed suicide by immolating themselves because one of them was being harassed by the police.

The deceased have been identified as Pradeep (39) of Kozhikode and Kumar (40) from Kannur. Pradeep ran Maharaja Guesthouse on the mezzanine floor of Kashmiri Manzil in Dongri. At 9.30 am, neighbours noticed smoke emanating from the guesthouse and upon breaking in, saw a badly burnt Pradeep lying on the floor. They informed the police and fire brigade, who doused the fire and found both men dead.

Police said the guesthouse comprised three small rooms that served as bedrooms and bathroom. The interiors were completely burnt and both bodies were charred, the police said. The bodies have been sent to J J Hospital for postmortem examination. The cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained, the police.

According to neighbours, Pradeep had rented the mezzanine floor and began operating the guesthouse three years ago. In September this year, he went to Kozhikode for a back surgery and left his associate Abdul Qadir in charge. On September 1, an employee named Suleman Shaikh allegedly murdered Qadir and fled. Upon his return, Pradeep was called in for questioning by the police but no trace of Shaikh could be found and he remains at large.

"He was a decent man who never got into any trouble. He used to tell us that the police would constantly harass him. Some policemen would also force him to treat them to food and drink. He told me he complained to the CBI but no action was taken against the cops,'' said Riyaz Kashmiri, who lives a few storeys above the guesthouse.

According to neighbours, the police had told Pradeep to close the guesthouse around 15 days ago, forcing him to look for other work. Two days ago, he joined as a cook at the nearby Nekraj Restaurant.

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