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The Hockey Stick Man

The Hockey Stick Man

Author:
Publication: Outlook
Date: August 17, 2009
URL: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?261230

Ramrao Patil, garbage man, goon and neta. His rise and fall.

Ramrao Patil's empire included garbage collection and disposal contracts, real estate development and vehicle distribution agencies all across Maharashtra. But it ended in ways no entrepreneur would want. Controversially, and in jail. His success, it's now evident, came on the back of the cynical exploitation and cheating of his workers, most of them Dalits. "We picked up garbage for him, he turned it into gold for himself," is the lament among Nashik's conservancy workers.

After a series of financial misappropriations, including paying half the minimum wage to workers, Patil's run ended with the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) terminating his contract in 2005. Patil then moved his "expertise" to other cities where his reputation had not preceded him-Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kolhapur. He started a cooperative credit society in his mother's name, ostensibly to credit workers' salaries, but it is now in liquidation. He started a tractor agency for a reputed corporate, but the latter terminated that contract and the agency is now in a shambles.

Patil usually drove around Nashik in a four-wheel drive. When he deigned to get out to talk to workers he would have a hockey stick in his hand, often poised to hit if a worker was less than respectful or more aware of his rights than Patil liked. "He wouldn't hesitate to use the stick, not even on our mothers and sisters if they asked him about back wages on our behalf," remembers a worker.

Incidentally, Patil happens to be a Nashik district vice-president of the Nationalist Congress Party and has been in the forefront of the pro-Maratha outfit, Shiv Sangram, headed by the ncp's Vinayak Mete. Even as he was moving around in Mumbai and Delhi as a CBI complainant last month, Patil was an accused in the cheating and forgery case of the conservancy workers, and deemed "untraceable". "A khalnayak (villain) tried to become a nayak (hero)," says Anand Gangurde, union leader in Nashik. Little did he realise that helping the CBI nail Buta's son Sarabjot would end up in skeletons tumbling


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