The father of Divyansh Singh, the toddler who disappeared into an open drain in Malad East in July 2019, has urged Mumbai Police to release the entire CCTV footage of the incident, which he claims will establish that the drain had been lying open for three to four years.
The police and BMC on one side and Divyansh’s father Surajbhan Singh on the other, are divided over how long the drain outside Bharatbhai Chawl on Motilal Nehru Road had remained open before the one-and-a-half-year-old disappeared into it. His body is yet to be found.
In its preliminary investigation report submitted to the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, police have claimed that CCTV footage showed two men removing the drain covers on July 1 to allow rainwater to flow and failing to replace them. The drain, they have claimed, was closed in the footage before the men opened it. It has also informed the commission that it suspects the men worked at any of the numerous tiny industrial units located in the chawl. Police have not been able to identify the two men so far because the camera was covered with plastic to prevent damage by rain.
Shravan Tiwari, a social activist who is helping Singh in the legal battle, claimed the release of the footage would prove the police and BMC are lying about the drain remaining shut otherwise. “In our reply to the police, we have attached copies of letters written by six local residents to BMC, complaining that the drain had been lying open for three years and should be immediately closed,” he said. Tiwari has also given the police a copy of a 2008 government resolution (GR), which fixes culpability on civic officials in the event of a person dying after falling into an open drain. “The GR states that several officials, including the ward’s assistant municipal commissioner, are culpable for such a death and should be suspended. It fixes also states that the contractor responsible for cleaning the drain shares secondary responsibility in such an event,” Tiwari said.
In an FIR lodged by the Dindoshi police after Divyansh’s death, unnamed BMC officials and contractors have been booked for causing death due to negligence. “It is strange that the police have still not filed a chargesheet even though we have presented them with evidence. It is not for the toddler’s father to investigate the crime,” Tiwari said.
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