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Police firing at Ramabai Ambedkar
Colony, Mumbai on 11 th July 1997

The Indian People’s Human Rights Commission requested us (Justice S.M. Daud and Justice H. Suresh) to serve as members of the India People’s Human Rights Tribunal to probe into the incident that took place in Ramabai Colony at Ghatkopar, Mumbai, on 11.7.1197 in which 10 persons were shot dead, and 14 persons suffered bullet injuries and many more suffered, all being the victims of police action.

Accordingly, we along with several social activists visited the colony on 18.7.1997, and identified the spots where several persons were hit by bullets. Thereafter we sat at Gandhi Kuti Vihar situated by the side of Dr. Ambedkar’s statute, and recorded the statements of a large number of eye-witnesses, victims of police action, journalists and other social activists from the locality. We also sat on25.7.1997 at the B.U.J. Hall at D.N. Road, Mumbai and recorded further statements of persons who had gone to the site soon after the incident. We have also collected several statements from injured persons who were still undergoing treatment in hospital.

Amongst the others, we have a statement on record from Sri Vasant Laxman Ingle, ex- Commandant, SRP and presently a Superintendent of Police. Though the police, as usual, did not appear before us, we had the benefit of the interview as given by Sub-Inspector M.Y. Kadam, the officer who ordered police firing, to the correspondent of The Times of India, which appeared in the Sunday Times dated 20 th July.1997. That gives the police version. Besides, the Commissioner of Police allowed us to have a look at the edited version of a video tape of less than two minutes in duration, which the police rely on to justify their version.

We also had the benefit of a fact-finding report dated 17 th July, 1997 brought out by Lokshahi Hakk Sanghatana and the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights. The members had visited the colony as early as on 13 th , 14 th and 15 th July and collected several statements on the spot which has helped us in arriving at the truth.

We would like to emphasise that in all cases of police action resulting in death and injury to the citizens, a speedy inquiry by an impartial body, sponsored preferably by the people themselves is the surest way to resuscitate faith in the administration. Every attempt to disregard such inquiry will only make the police and the administration suspect in the eyes of the people.

We understand that the government has ordered an inquiry by one of the sitting judges of the High Court. We regret to say that though more than a month is over, the said inquiry has not passed beyond the stage of notification.

We feel that it is proper that this report be dedicated to those killed, beaten-up, tortured and slighted, viz., the residents of Ramabai Ambedkar Colony. This small epistle is commended to the public, lest they forget, lest they forget!

Justice H. Suresh
Former Judge
Bombay High Court

Justice S.M. Daud
Former Judge
Bombay High Court