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12 years on,Ramabai firing case verdict today

On manday,every family of Ramabai Nagar colony in Ghatkopar will have at least one member standing outside the Sewree fast track court that will pronounce the judgment in the 1997 case...

On manday,every family of Ramabai Nagar colony in Ghatkopar will have at least one member standing outside the Sewree fast track court that will pronounce the judgment in the 1997 case,in which suspended SRPF officer Manohar Kadam is charged with ordering firing on a group of protestors. Ten Dalits had died after his men opened fire on July 11,1997.

“The judiciary punishes even a person who kills an animal. How will one justify killing 10 innocent persons,” said Kantabai Garud,who had attended every court proceeding since 2006.

Kantabai is hopeful that Kadam will be convicted. “The government had a sound sleep for 10 years when we ran from pillar to post to have a case registered against Kadam who killed my teenage son,but in return was shielded by his department,” says Kantabai. Departmental inquiries had indicted Kadam,who was reinstated after he approached the state administrative tribunal.

While the Garud family continues to live in the same shanty; many houses are now closed,abandoned for several years.

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Of the 10 killed,families of nearly six have deserted their houses. “At least two generations of Sukhdev’s family had lived in Ramabai Nagar,and after his death,the entire family shifted to Titwala in Thane,” said Asha Rani who had helped Sukhdev Kapadne’s wife to take his body to the hospital after he was shot dead.

Sanjay Nikam,a 25-year-old conservancy worker at the N-ward civic office in Ghatkopar,was shot when he was allegedly on his way to work. “He used to earn Rs 700. Just a week later he was to get married,they fired at him,calling him a rioter,” says Arvind,brother of Sanjay,who has since then taken care of a family of 12 by doing odd jobs. “It’s all a sham,with only two years for his (Kadam’s) retirement,even if he is convicted,it makes little sense to us,” he says.

The firing had followed tension in the area following the desecration of an Ambedkar statue the previous night.

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According to the Justice S D Gundewar Commission,Kadam had resorted to firing without receiving any orders from the seniors. However,in his statement,Kadam had accused the state and the police of victimising him as he belonged to an “open” caste. “I am victimised and made to pay a heavy price for not being a Dalit. Had I been a Dalit,no question would have been asked about my credibility,” Kadam has told the court.

While the Gundewar Commission had tabled its report in 1999,a case against Kadam was registered only in 2001. After three more years spent on investigation,the case was handed over to the CID,which finally filed a chargesheet on March 7,2006. Kadam is booked under Section 304 of the IPC for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

First published on: 30-03-2009 at 01:36:30 am
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