Khairlanji: Court Proceedings on May4th

11May07

Prosecution (Bhotmange)- Adv Nikam
Defense( Accused)- Adv Jaiswal, Adv Bederkar

The witness brought before the court is Mukesh Asaram Pusam, who is an eye witness of the massacre of Bhotmange family. As soon as he stands in the witness box, judge S.S. Das questioned him.
Judge S.S. Das:  What is your name?
Witness: Mukesh Asaram Pusam.
Judge: What is your age?
Witness: 30 years.
Judge: What is your occupation?
Witness: I am a farm laborer in Khairlanji village.

(Now Adv. Jaiswal rises to speak.)

Adv. Jaiswal: Sir, before examining the witness, I would like to see for the copies of the recorded testimonies of the witness as given to local police and CID.
Adv. Nikam: Sir, that can be provided tomorrow and the examining of the witness can begin for the time being.
Judge: Ok. The examination of the witness can begin.

(Then the examination of witness starts)

Adv. Nikam:  (to witness) Since when are you residing in village Khairlanji?
Witness: Since my birth.
Adv. Nikam:  What is the population of village Khairlanji?
Witness:  1000 to 1200.
Adv. Nikam: Which community is in majority?
Witness: Kunbi and Kalar
Adv. Nikam: Name the place where you reside?
Witness: Indira Avas Toli
Adv. Nikam: How many houses are there in this part of village?
Witness: 10 – 12 houses.
Adv. Nikam: Whose house is there on the left of yours?
Witness: Suresh khandate.
Adv. Nikam: On the right of your house, who resides?
Witness: Tejram khandate.
Adv. Nikam: Are you familiar with Bhaiyalal Bhotmange?
Witness: Yes.
Adv. Nikam: Do you recognize his family members?
Witness: Yes.
Adv. Nikam: On which side of your house, Bhaiyalal and his family resides?
Witness: On the front of my house.
Adv. Nikam: What is the distance between yours and Bhaiyalal house.
Witness: 10 – 15 feet’s.
Adv. Nikam: What divides yours and Bhaiyalal house?
Witness: A road.
Adv. Nikam: Road breadth?
Witness: About 10 feet’s road.
Adv. Nikam: What is your education?
Witness: I am educated upto 5th standard.
Adv. Nikam: Do you understand the directions?
Witness: No.
Adv. Nikam: At what time you go to the farm and come back?
Witness: I go to the farm at 10 in the morning and come back at 5 o clock in the evening.
Adv. Nikam: What caste Bhaiyalal Bhotmange belongs to?
Witness: Mahar caste.
Adv. Nikam: How many houses are there of Mahar caste?
Witness: Three houses, including that of Bhotmange.
Adv. Nikam: To whom other houses belong to?
Witness: Vinod Meshram and Durvas Khobragade.
Adv. Nikam: Where do they reside?
Witness: They live in main village; they do not live in my toli (ward.)
Adv. Nikam: Are there any other houses of Mahar caste in your toli?
Witness: No, only Bhaiyalal Bhotmange’s house is there in our toli, who is of Mahar caste.
Adv. Nikam: What is Bhaiyalal bhotmange’s wife’s name?
Witness: Surekha Bhotmange.
Adv. Nikam: How many children were there to Bhaiyalal?
Witness: 3, two sons and one daughter.
Adv. Nikam: What are their names?
Witness: The elder son- Sudhir, the younger son- Roshan and daughter- Rriyanka.
Adv. Nikam: What did Sudhir do?
Witness: He was shepherd.
Adv. Nikam: What did Roshan do?
Witness: Education, he was in 13th standard.
Adv. Nikam: What did Priyanka do?
Witness: Education, she was in 12th standard.
Adv. Nikam: How old were they?
Witness: Sudhir was 21 years, Roshan was 19 years, and Priyanka was 17 years old.
Adv. Nikam: Do you know Jagdish Mandalekar?
Adv. Jaiswal: (intervening) Sir, I object to such leading question.
Adv. Nikam: Sir, the law allows such interrogative questions.
Judge: Adv. Jaiswal, there is no such thing in objecting to such question and since accused live in the same village that of the witness, there is no cause of not knowing the accused.
Adv. Nikam to witness: tell the court, do you know Jagdish Mandlekar?
Witness: Yes
Adv. Nikam: Are you familiar with Shatrughna Dhande, Ramu Dhande, Sakaru Bijewar, Prabhakar Mandlekar, Vishwanath Dhande, Gopal Bijewar?
Witness: Yes.
Adv. Nikam: How you recognize them?
Witness: Because they live in the same village Khairlanji where I live.
Adv. Nikam: Since how long you know them?
Witness: Since many years.
Adv. Nikam: Can you recognize them if they are presented before you?
Witness: Yes.
[then the accused who already sitting on the last 3 rows on the benches made to stand up by calling the first row to stand up, after taking the name of the accused from accused no.1 i.e. Gopal Sakru Bijewar to accused no.11 i.e. Shishupal Vishwanath Dhande. The witness correctly recognizes the faces of all 11 accused persons.]
Adv. Nikam: Are Surekha, Roshan, Sudhir and Priyanka alive?
Witness: No.
Adv. Nikam: Why?
Witness: They were murdered.
Adv. Nikam: On what day this incidence took place?
Witness: On 29th September 2006.
Adv. Nikam: On 29th September, at what time did you go to the farms and came back?
Witness: At 10 o clock in the morning I went to the farms and at 5 o’clock in the evening, I came back from the forms.
Adv. Nikam: Where were you on the evening of 29th September between 6- 6:30 PM?
Witness: I was giving the cattle their feed between 6 to 6:30 in the evening.
Adv. Nikam: What happened then?
Witness: I heard the shouting of Jagdish.
Adv. Nikam: What did you do then?
Witnesss: I looked in the direction of voice.
Adv. Nikam: What did you see?
Witness: There were people outside Surekha’s house.
Adv. Nikam: How many people?
Witness: 10-12 people.
Adv. Nikam: Who were they?
Witness: I know 7 persons out of them.
Adv. Nikam: Whom you know?
Witness: Jagdish Mandlekar, Shatrughna Dhande, Ramu Dhande, Vishwanath Dhande, Prabhakar Mandlekar, Sakru Bijewar, Gopal Bijewar.
Adv. Nikam: Where were these person standing?
Witness: In front of surekha’s house.
Adv. Nikam: What did Jagdish say?
Witness: “Saali Maadarchod” (slang Motherfucker) come out of the house. You told our names to Police-Patil Sidhharth Gajbhiye (Cousin of Surekha Bhotmange) and gave report against us. Other persons were also abusing.
Adv. Nikam: (to the judge) Sir, the next question should also be recorded because I have some specific purpose behind it.
[Then Judge S.S. Das dictates to the stenographer the plea of adv. Nikam and the grant of such permission, then suddenly adv. Jaiswal who is standing near the opposite box of witness, says..]
Adv. Jaiswal: Sir, all the CBI officers must be asked to go out of court.
Adv. Ajaj khan: Sir, if there is any provision that the investigating authority mustn’t present in the court, then the CBI officer can be asked to go out. And if adv. Jaiswal is feeling any apprehension he should speak out such instance.
Adv. Nikam: Sir, I don’t know, under which provision my friend Adv. Jaiswal is asking such request.
Adv. Jaiswal: Sir, if my standing near to the witness terrorizes the witness, then why CBI officers under whose custody my witness is from last 3 days can be not asked to go out of the court to relieve pressure from the witness.
Adv. Bedarkar: the CBI is the part and parcel of the investigation, and their presences can intimidate the witness.
Judge S.S. Das: Unless you state such specific instance, the court is not going to ask the CBI officer to go out.

[Adv. Jaiswal’s plea of removing the CBI officer’s from the court is rejected.]

Adv. Nikam: (to witness) What were those person hurling curses?
Witness: Mahar lok majle aahet ( Mahar caste dalits have become bigheaded) pull them out of house and kill them.
Adv. Nikam: what you saw next?
Witness: Surekha came out of house and put on fire the cattle-feed.

[Again Adv. Nikam requests the court to record his next question too]

Adv. Nikam: Why did she put the fire the cattle-feed?
Witness: Perhaps to scare the accused lot.
Adv. Nikam: What happened next?
Witness: She ran behind her house.
Adv. Nikam: Means where?
Witness: In the direction of her house entrance towards the fence of her house.
Adv. Nikam: What next?
Witness: These all accused chased her.
Adv. Nikam: What happened then?
Witness: All the accused ran after her, from one side there were Vishwanath and Shatrughna and from the other all accused caught her. Jagdish pulled her by hairs and dragged her to the canal. He dipped her in to the canal. He dipped her 2-3 times in the water of the canal.
 Adv. Nikam: Then?
Witness: They took her out and beat her by cycle chains and sticks and by their fists and feet’s.
Adv. Nikam: on which part of her body they beat her?
Witness: On her hands and legs, on her head and the back.
Adv. Nikam: Who were the people beating her?
Witness: All.
Adv. Nikam: all means those seven persons?
Witness: Yes.
[at this stage adv. Jaiswal objects.]
Adv. Jaiswal: Sir, the prosecution lawyer is asking  the leading question which must not be allowed.
Adv. Nikam: I am sorry sir.
Judge: Be careful Adv. Nikam.
Adv. Nikam: Yes, Sir.
Adv. Nikam(to witness): Who beat Surekha?
Witness: Jagdish, Ramu, Prabhakar, Sakru, Shatrughna and Vishwanath those seven people killed her.
Adv. Nikam: What happened next?
Witness: They killed her and put her dead body in the same place.
Adv. Nikam: then?
Witness: then, those persons said where are the others. We will search them and kill them too. Sudhir Bhotmange came out of house. He was on underwear.
(at this stage, Adv. Nikam suddenly realizes that he missed something so, he asks permission of the court again to question  the witness by a bit going back  to the incidence of putting on fire the cattle shed. The judge permits him)
Adv. Nikam: What happened after Surekha put on fire the cattle shed?
Witness: Sakru and Jagdish extinguished the fire. Then Sakru, Gopal, Prabhakar, and other people ran after her.
Adv. Nikam: When Sudhir Bhotmange came out of house, what happened?
Witness: He ran towards the farms.
Adv. Nikam: On which road?
Witness: on Dhusala road.
Adv. Nikam: what happened then?
Witness: All the accused ran after him.
Adv. Nikam: then?
Witness: I saw the he being dragged. They had killed him on the road.
Adv. Nikam: to where?
Witness: They dragged his body and put it near his mother’s body.
Adv. Nikam: What happened next?
Witness: Everybody shouted, where are other? We will search them and kill them too.
Adv. Nikam: What happened then?
Witness:  He was hiding behind the cattle-shed of Ramanath Khandate.
Adv. Nikam: Who is this, he?
Witness: Roshan Bhotmange.
Adv. Nikam: What happened then?
Witness: They caught him too.
Adv. Nikam: then?
Witness:  He pleaded them that, he has not done anything wrong to them.
Adv. Nikam: then?
Witness: He ran towards the road.
Adv. Nikam: Road means in which direction?
Witness: He ran towards the hand- pump. But I have not seen him being killed.
(At this stage, when the judge was dictating to the typist the account of witness, the witness suddenly collapsed. The CBI officers and press person held him. A doctor nearby asks them to keep him in reclining position and touches his pulse.
 Then suddenly, the witness clasps his fists and beats the floor violently. He is still lying on the floor and then shifts his side to the bench on which the press persons and self proclaimed human rights activist Mrs. Arati Tiwari claiming to represent NHRC, are sitting. Then she mutters something in the ears of the witness and takes out a small battery operated fan towards him.)

Adv. Jaiswal: Sir, this lady is making nuisance here. She just said to the witness that “you speak the truth, if you do not speak out how justice will be delivered.” She be asked to go out of the court immediately.
Mrs. Arati Tiwari:  Who are you to ask me to go out of the court. I was doing it on humanitarian ground.
Adv. Jaiswal: Madam, keep your humanity at your home. This is the court.
Judge: Madam, the court is there to take proper action.
Adv. Jaiswal: Sir, she is asking my locus standi. She is asking us, the court officers, and the locus standi she must be prevented from coming to the courtroom.
Judge: Madam, because of the court, you are being here to attend it.
Mrs. Arati Tiwari: Yes sir, I am here due to your mercy.
Judge: next time you will have to sit on the back benches of the court.
[Then the Judge, asks the police present there to take the witness to the doctor and adjourns the court till 3 pm. But, the witness being hospitalized and not recovered, the court again is adjourned till next day, after re-assembling again at 3pm.]



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