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He put his law practice aside to help 7/11 victims

By Probir Pramanik, IANS

Mumbai : In the year since Mumbai was rocked by a series of horrific train bombings, Rajendra Parkar, a 50-year-old advocate, has been busy shuffling through the files of compensation claims of over 130 victims of India's worst terror attacks on its railway network.

Soft-spoken Parkar left his cosy law practice at Bombay High Court last year to take up this mission and offers his service gratis.

He has filed for 110 injured victims and for the family of 20 who were killed. The blast on the suburban train network on July 11 last year killed 186 people and wounded many more.

"People do say that there is no value for human life in India. But I am just doing this to prove that this impression is totally untrue," the lawyer said, shuffling through a bunch of files at his one-room office in western suburban Malad.

Parkar also does not charge the 10-12 percent of the compensation money as fee that some lawyers rake in.

"I am not bothered with loss really. What makes me happy is that I can help people who have suffered such a tragedy," Parkar told IANS Tuesday.

"The claims had to be filed within a year of the attack to get compensation, so I have been very busy the last few days," he said.

"Though I don't charge any professional fees, some of my clients do pay for the legal documents if they are economically sound. Otherwise I take care of the all the expenses."

"Yes, there is no income for me by taking up this brief, but there is nothing like helping innocent victims and their relatives."

Parkar said that filing and claiming compensation is not as easy it seems.

"Relevant documents have to be produced. The Railway Act relating to compensation is quite a complicated one and needs to be amended," he said.

"I have written to the president, prime minister, railway minister and even to the Congress president Sonia Gandhi explaining that the act needs to specify a higher and maximum compensation for victims and their families," said Parkar.

"I have emphasised on the victim's economic needs to be considered while filing for their compensation. Sadly, so far I have not received any reply," rued the advocate whose grandfather was a policeman and father an Income Tax inspector.

"So far, I have managed to get compensation for 20 of my clients. Others are pending with the tribunal," added Parkar.

His wife Reshma, 46, who works in a pharmaceutical firm, has been bearing the family expenses over the last year.

The only thing that makes him sad is of fellow lawyers not taking up a similar role.

"When I got involved after former parliamentarian from Mumbai Kirit Somaiya asked me to help, I thought that there would be other colleagues working with me. But that was not the case," said Parkar, who has accepted the work as a social cause.