Almost a month after three men died in a manhole in Bengaluru’s upmarket CV Raman Nagar, the chief of Ramky Enterprises, the company that had taken the contract for cleaning manholes, appeared before the Baiyappanahalli Police on Sunday to submit his statement in the case.
AA Ramareddy had absconded after the three men died while cleaning the manhole near Kaggadasapura in CV Raman Nagar on March 7, and later obtained anticipatory bail.
"He had obtained anticipatory bail a week ago, and as per the court's directions, he appeared before the police to make a statement," the Inspector at the Baiyappanahalli Police station said.
Police said that Ramareddy declared in his statement that he was not responsible for the deaths of the three men.
"He said that his company had obtained the contract from BWSSB to clean up the manholes in Bengaluru and his company had sub-contracted it to Vemula Anjaneyulu. He said that his company had won many awards for exceptional work and that the deaths were due to the negligence of the sub-contractor. He finally said that he and his company regretted the loss of three lives," the Baiyappanahalli Inspector added.
The police are currently examining Ramareddy's statement, and will submit the chargesheet to the court following this.
However, according to BWSSB Chief Engineer Kemparamaiah, there is no record that Ramky Enterprises sub-contracted to Vemula Anjaneyulu the project it was awarded for Rs 46 crore. As there is no official record of Ramky Enterprises sub-contracting the project, the police had booked the company and Ramareddy for negligence, he said.
Anjaneya Reddy, Yerraiah and Dhavathi Naidu went down a manhole in CV Raman Nagar on March 7, and died within seconds due to asphyxiation. The three men were allegedly made to enter the manhole without any safety gear, and died after inhaling toxic fumes.
Following the deaths, a case was booked under Section 304 of the IPC and section 8 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
The police say that officials of the Ramky Enterprises have not cooperated with the investigation, and that a request will be filed with the court to withdraw the anticipatory bail granted to Ramareddy.
Earlier, the police had arrested three other persons – K Babu Reddy, the Assistant General Manager of Projects; NT Reddy, Manager of Projects of Ramky Enterprises; and Vemula Anjaneyulu, the sub-contractor of the firm.
According to the police, Babu Reddy too had tried to evade arrest by sending two other persons to surrender to the police, claiming that they were the contractors responsible for the deaths.
“They had absconded for seven days and also tried to dupe us. After the two persons surrendered, we questioned them and figured out that they had been sent to take the fall after being paid off by Babu Reddy,” a senior police official had earlier told The News Minute.
The official had also said that when the victims’ family members had come from Andhra Pradesh to Bengaluru to collect the bodies, officials from Ramky had posed as activists and tried to pay the family members Rs 30,000 to settle the case.