Thane sewage tank deaths: 3 housing society members arrested for negligence
A day after three conservancy workers suffocated to death while cleaning a sewage treatment plant (STP) in a Thane residential complex, the police arrested three office-bearers of the society for negligence. With this, five people have been arrested in the case so far, including two contractors who were apprehended on Friday. All five were later released by the Thane magistrate court on bail.
According to the police, colleagues of the workers who were killed said the society was equally responsible as they were aware the work would be done at night and without any safety gear. Meanwhile, the relatives of the victims, who had refused to accept the bodies of the three labourers, claimed them on Saturday after the police assured them they would file a watertight case against the accused.
VS Pawar, inspector of Kapurbawdi police station, said, “We have arrested three office-bearers of the society, Suman Narsana, 44, chairman; Harbajhan Singh Bhatia, 69, secretary; and Sunil Kaiche, 43, treasurer, for negligence. We have booked the society members under section 304 of the Indian Penal Code for causing death by negligence and under sections 7 and 9 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.”
Vaibhav Patil, one of the contractors who was arrested, had no experience in the work and acted as a middleman between the society and Jitendra Khair, the other contractor, Pawar said. Khair had employed the workers, he said. “The society members knew the work was going on at night and that the workers were working without any safety gear.”
While the society members refused to comment, their lawyer told the court that the society must not be held responsible for the incident. The lawyer argued that when similar incidents had taken place at private societies in the past, the society had not been held guilty.
On Saturday afternoon, relatives and colleagues of the victims gathered outside the Kapurbawdi police station demanding the society members also be booked. Virendra Kagad, 24, said, “The three labourers who died inside a septic tank in Nalla Sopara last week were also our friends. We want police to file a strong case against the accused so no one else is sacrificed in the future.”
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