Maharashtra govt says that it can’t grant accommodation to 26/11 victim Devika Rotawan

Additional government pleader Jyoti Chavan representing the Maharashtra government informed the Bench of Justices SV Gangapurwala and MS Karnik on Thursday that as per the last order of 2020, compensation of about 13.26 lakhs had already been given to key eyewitness and 26/11 terror attack survivor Devika Rotawan. There was nothing more that can be given by the state now, she stated.

Ajmal Kasab, convicted in the 26/11 terror attack, and his associate had opened a burst of shots from their automatic rifles at waiting train passengers at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Railway Terminus. Rotawan was nine years old at that time and was shot in the leg. She had still come to the trial court and identified Kasab as the perpetrator of the crime. Kasab was later convicted and sentenced to death. He was later hanged at Pune’s Yerwada prison.

Rotawan had approached the Bombay High Court in August 2020, when a co-ordinate bench had directed the registry to forward a copy of her petition to the then Chief Secretary of State. Rotawan claimed that the state had failed to consider her request and therefore, she was compelled to approach the court again.

In 2020, despite similar directions, the state failed to consider the request of a government-allotted house to a witness who identified Ajmal Kasab from the terror attack. Rotawan moved the Bombay High Court yet again, seeking a government allotted house for her family and provisions for her education.

On Thursday, Union panel counsel Advocate R Bubna stated that after having received the compensation of over Rs 10 lakh, which was fixed as per a government policy, there was nothing more which Rotawan could demand as a matter of right. The order of the co-ordinate bench of 2020 directing the state to consider her accommodation plea was also rejected, he informed the court.

Rotawan had invoked a 2017 policy of the central government while seeking accommodation. However, Bubna clarified the same was not applicable retrospectively and hence Rotawan could not claim compensation under that.

Since no advocate was present for Rotawan during the hearing on Thursday, the plea was adjourned to October 12.

In her plea, Rotawan claimed that since her family was not able to pay rent for the current room where she stayed, her family would be rendered homeless soon. Due to several ailments, she claimed that her father and brother were unable to earn a living.

A college student at present, Rotawan aspires to be a civil servant.

Rotawan’s petition stated that after the 2008 attack, several central and state government representatives had assured her that she would get accommodation under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota. Her family had also addressed several communications to the then Prime Minister and Chief Minister seeking relief, however, they received no response. The plea contended that whatever assistance she had received from government or non-governmental organisations had been spent on her treatment and post-operative care.

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