Sixty-year-old Francis Gomes, the paranoid man, who confined his wife and two daughters at home for seven years fearing they would be raped if they ventured out, was on Thursday produced before a local court which granted him bail.
A Metropolitan Magistrate at Vasai, about 50 kms from Mumbai, granted bail to Gomes on a surety of Rs 15,000.
Gomes, who was arrested on Wednesday night for confining the victims and subjecting them to torture at their home in Naigaon, applied for bail after he was remanded to judicial custody till October 15.
"I have been falsely implicated. My wife and daughters are mentally unstable and I used to confine them inside the house only to protect them," Gomes told reporters outside the Court after getting bail.
Rubbishing allegations of torturing the three women, he said, "I am taking computer classes for a couple of kids at home. So, the question of ill-treating my wife and daughters does not arise."
"The NGO, Anand Rehabilitation Centre, had not taken my consent despite my being the head of the family, before taking my wife and daughter away", Gomes, a science graduate from St Zavier's college, alleged.
Refuting allegations that he had assaulted his younger daughter Barbara resulting in dislocation of her neck, Gomes said, last year, she had failed in her examination and due to shock and depression she used to slouch due to which her neck was dislocated.
Gomes claimed he had been taking his daughter to Cardinal Gracious hospital for treatment.
On the issue of keeping her daughters in confinement, he said, "in 2004, my elder daughter Elizabeth was kidnapped from Juhu beach and raped for 20 days by some unidentified men."
"This is why I try to keep my daughters away from strangers in order to save them," he said to justify his unusual conduct which is being described by experts as reflective of serious mental disorder.
Meanwhile, R Gopalkrishnan, head of Anand Rehabilitation Centre, which rescued Gomes' wife Theresa and his daughters, said the man requires immediate medical attention as he was suffering from "schizophrenia", a serious mental disorder.
Gomes has kept his wife and two daughters in forced custody for years inside flat 201 of Neelambha Cooperative Housing Society at Naigaon, Vasai, because he did not want his daughters to be ‘corrupted' by films, TV and he feared that they would be raped if they went outside.
On Tuesday, social workers from Anand Rehabilitation Centre and police rescued the three women, who had been beaten, starved and kept locked up in their house for years by the patriarch.
Shielding her eyes from the sudden sunlight Theresa Gomes, his wife, could only hoarsely whisper to her rescuers, ‘Take us away.'
Speaking with painful slowness and still looking terrified, the women revealed their horrifying story.
Francis and his wife Theresa moved into the housing society seven years ago with their three daughters, Elizabeth, Barbara and a third daughter whose identity is being kept a secret.
Every morning before he left home 60-year-old Francis would lock the door giving the impression that the family was away. This continued day after day, week on week and for years together.
The women were often denied food and fresh clothing. The windows were kept shut, denying them sunlight too.
When rescuers went into the flat they were taken aback by the all pervasive stench.
“Sometimes, Theresa – finding the door unlocked – would open it slightly. She was always dressed in rags, and she only spoke about how hungry she was,” said a neighbour.
Francis who has been unemployed for over 15 years exhibited a streak of possessiveness with his daughters from the time they were born, but as they grew older – they are 27, 22 and 21 years old – this possessiveness took on the edge of insanity.
He stopped them from going out, convinced that they would be raped, he would not let them watch TV convinced that they would be corrupted by the filmi love songs and earlier when they were in school and college he would personally escort them to and fro until one day he decided that he could not risk his daughters being seen outside and locked them up.
When Theresa first tried to stop him he hit her and then gave her a long lecture on how bad the world was. “He was convinced that if our daughters even exchanged a word with strangers they would be raped,” revealed Theresa.
When their youngest daughter Barbara failed her third year B.Sc. exam he hit her so hard that she dislocated her neck.
Rescuers found Barbara speechless and her neck uncontrollably lolling forward. “She can't keep her head straight, neither can she eat or drink properly, due to the pain,” Theresa told her rescuers sobbing.
Francis who is a teetotaller and according to his wife, “a man without any vices,” often hit his women till they bled, after which he would tend to their wounds and offer them first aid.
Often the women would be locked up in the kitchen or the living room when Francis left home every morning at 9.30. It is not clear where he would go every morning since he is unemployed. He lived off the money he received from the sale of a flat, which he owned in Andheri.
“All was well earlier, and the trouble only began when we shifted to Naigaon, seven years ago,” said Theresa, unable to articulate what led to the unravelling.
In September 2008, the women managed to establish contact with one of their neighbours and told her of their ordeal.
She in turn got in touch with R Gopalkrishnan – who heads the Anand Rehabilitation Centre NGO. “We have been trying to rescue the women since September 25. On that day, however, Gomes reached home unexpectedly, foiling all our plans. We finally saw our chance on Tuesday morning when Gomes left his house. The neighbour called me, and I – along with my volunteers and the police – went to the flat and rescued the women,” said Gopalakrishnan.
The women have been shifted to an undisclosed Mumbai hospital for psychiatric treatment, while Barbara will be also be treated for her neck injury by a reputed orthopaedic surgeon due to her tilted neck injury, reports Mumbai Mirror.