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Saturday, Aug 17, 2019

Manhole that killed Mumbai doctor was opened to keep pregnant woman safe, say kin of accused

While the family members admitted that it was mistake to open the manhole, they said the intention was to help those living adjacent to the road and not kill anyone

mumbai Updated: Sep 19, 2017 13:10 IST
Pratik Salunke
Pratik Salunke
Hindustan Times
The manhole in which Dr Deepak Amrapurkar fell on August 29.
The manhole in which Dr Deepak Amrapurkar fell on August 29.(HT)

Family members of those arrested for opening the manhole Dr Deepak Amarapurkar fell into and drowned said that the locals took the step to save distraught residents including a pregnant woman. 

The police arrested Siddesh Bhelsekar, 25, Rakesh Kadam, 38, his younger brother Nilesh, 33, and Dinaar Pawar, 36, for their alleged negligence that led to the senior Bombay Hospital doctor’s death.

“A heavily pregnant woman was made to sit on a stool as the water levels were constantly rising,” said a family member of one of the accused requesting anonymity. “The situation was such that the entire area was flooded and uncovering manholes was a desperate measure made by the locals to drain the water.” 

While the family members admitted that it was mistake to open the manhole, they claimed that the intention was to help those living on the ground level adjacent to the road and not kill anyone.

The kin of the accused have pleaded innocence. “One of the four arrested in the case has never been involved in any kind of crime in the past. He is to get married in a couple of months and we are clueless about what to tell the bride’s family,” said a family member. 

The members blamed authorities as water logging in the area has been a menace whenever the rainfall increases.

“Where was the administration when there was water logging in the area? The locals had to take the matter in their own hands to drain water,” said the family member. 

The counsel representing the four accused said they have been “falsely implicated in the said incident and are not involved in the said crime”. 

“At the very second after they were sent to judicial custody, we moved a bail application which was granted. There is no evidence which says the residents are involved. Without any evidence, they have been put behind bars,” said Sandeep B Barve, counsel representing the accused.

Two more locals may be involved, say cops

The Dadar police are looking for two more people who are also suspected to have been involved in opening the manhole, in which renowned gastroenterologist Dr Deepak Amarapurkar fell and died during the August 29 deluge.

“It was a practice in the area to open the manhole whenever the water level rose. We are looking for two more people who are involved with the four accused, who have been arrested in the case,” said a police officer privy to the investigation.

During the investigations, the police had scanned the records of the civic body to ascertain involvement of any staffer. “We have recorded statements of senior civic officers who said no instructions were given to open the manhole,” said the officer. “We then focused on conducting investigations in the area which led us to the four accused.” 

Police suspect that an iron rod was used to open the manhole. The witnesses include a man who tried to save the doctor and also a police constable attached to a nearby police station. 

The police stated that a test identification parade (TIP) is required in the case. “We have approached the court seeking permission for the parade. We also have corroborative evidences in form of CCTV footage of the vicinity even as there is no direct footage of the incident,” said the officer. 

Police investigations revealed that an unfortunate chain of events led to the tragic death of the doctor. “It was not his usual route to reach his residence at Prabhadevi and some people tried to save him, but to no avail,” said the officer. 

No one is allowed to open the manhole except the civic staff. According to practice, a red flag is supposed to be put up near a manhole along with a warning sign if it is left open. Also, a civic staffer is supposed to be near the spot to divert traffic since most manhole covers are left on the roads.

A bamboo was found in the manhole and the police are investigating if the accused had used it to as a warning sign to inform people that there was an open manhole there. Officials said the current of water was so fast that it was possible the bamboo may have been swept away.

First Published: Sep 19, 2017 13:10 IST

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