According to the prosecution, the accused -- Sudevi Giri, Anna Kadam, Vijay Gaikwad, Hiraman Gaikwad, Sanjay Hire, Ragunath Jadhav, Bapu Kolakkar and Sanjay Ahire were going to set the tanker standing near the spot ablaze. "However, the accused were at home when the incident happened," said defence lawyer Rajesh Karamkar, talking to PTI after the verdict.
Karamkar said that when the police opened fire, accused came out of the houses and sustained bullet injuries, but the police registered a false case that firing was necessary because the accused were setting the tanker afire. He said that these people did not know that they had been made accused till 2006, when summons from the magistrate's court was served.
The police examined eight witnesses -- including the prime accused in the firing case, State Reserve Police Force officer Manohar Kadam. Kadam ordered firing on a Dalit mob which was allegedly rioting at Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar, following the desecration of Babasaheb Ambedkar's statue at Rambabai Nagar on July 11, 1997. Ten people died in the firing.
The incident led to a hue and cry. The committee headed by Justice S D Gundewar indicted Kadam for indiscriminate and needless firing. Kadam had said that he ordered firing because the mob was about set a gas tanker afire.
The sessions court later sentenced Kadam to a life imprisonment. The Bombay high court, hearing his appeal, suspended it and released him on bail.