Khairlanji: Court Aberrations or GAME ?


Following statements of the witnesses, sufficient enough, to attract the sections of Prevention of Atrocities Act , 1989

1)Witness no.3 , Suresh Khandate said in his statement in para 7 on 30 June 07 said ,
7. I then saw Jagdish Mandlekar, Vishwanath Dhande, Shishupal Dhande, Shatrughna Dhande, Ramu Dhande, Sakru Binjewar, Gopal Bijewar and Prabhakar Mandlekar were standing in front of the house of Bhaiyalal Bhotmange. Shatrughan Dhande and Shishupoal Dhande were holding bicycle chains in their hands. Jagdish Mandlekar, Vishvanath Dhande, Ramu Dhande and Sakru Bijewar were holding sticks in their hands. They were giving abuses to Surekha Bhotmange and asking her to come outside her house. Jagdish Mandlekar and Vishvanath Dhande were telling Surekha Bhotmange that she made to complaint against them and told their names to police station and that these Mahar caste people should be ousted from the village.
2) Witness no.2 , Mukesh Asaram Pusam , in his statement of para no.6, on 4th May 2007,said,” Jagdish Mandlekar was then shouting “Sali Madarchod, Gharabaher Nigh, Aamchi Nave Police Patil Sidharth Gahjbhiyela Sangitali Aani Report Davayala Lawali”. Those persons were giving abuses. (Sali Madarchod come out of your house. You told our names to Police Patil Sidharth Gajbhiye and got lodged the complaint). (At this stage request was made by Spl. P.P. Shri Nikam to record evidence of this witness in question answer forms for some time. This is permitted. So evidence be so recorded for some period. Spl. P.P. to put questions). At this stage Shri Jaiswal Adv. submitted that some CBI officers present in the court should be asked to go out of Court hall as they are part and parcel of investigating agency. Shri Nikam submitted that they are not witnesses and so they can not be asked to go away. I heard both the sides. Court can evict any person from the Court hall if he is causing disturbance or terrorising the witness or he is witness. In this case, I have been told that those officers are not witnesses. They also did not cause obstruction to court proceeding. Their mere presence can amount to pressurising the witnesses. Therefore, objection of Shri Jaiswal is over ruled. )
Que. What abuses they were giving ?
Ans. They were telling that “Mahar Lok Majlele Aahet Tyana Gharabaher Kadha Aani Marun Taka.” (Mahar community people have become arrogant and they be pulled out and be killed).
3)Witness No.19, Dinesh Dhande in his para no 6 statement of his examination of chief on16/11/06 by Adv.Ezaz Khan said,” While the incident was going on 30 to 40 persons surrounded the house of Bhaiyalal Bhotmange. Then some persons out of those persons who were beating, intermitantly were telling that if some one tell their names then he will be also beaten like them. Thereafter, I went away from there to my house as I was frightened. Bhaiyalal belongs to Mahar caste. At the time of incident those persons who were beating also shouting that Maharana Mara” (beat Mahar caster people). Those who were beating are now present in the Court. I know them as they are my co-villagers.
4) In Exhibit no.132 , Bhaiyyalal Sudam Bhotmange said,” On that day at about 6 to 6:30 P.M. villagers attacked at our house. They were shouting that,” Mahar Dhed people falsly implicated us in police case.”
All these evidences are such which are sufficient to attract the sections of Prevention of Atrocity act 1989. But the court completely disregarded the statements of these witnesses and freed all the accused from the charges of atrocity u/s 3(1)(x),3(1) (xi) and 3(2)(v).
The other charge which the accused were acquitted from is of outraging the modesty of women u/s 354 of I.P.C. Even though the dead bodies were found naked and half naked , the court absolved the accused from the charge u/s354 on the basis that prosecution failed to fix the responsibility of crime u/s 354. But it is merely logical and circumstantial that those accused who beat and killed Surekha and Priyanka , were the perpetrators of the crime u/s 354.
All the above evidences are so clear that creates doubt, ‘why did Court act in favour of the accused and discharged them from the charges of Atrocity and Sexual molestation ?’. Is this a sound decision ? How can one believe in the integrity of the incumbent Judge? This, however, is not new in India, less than 2% convictions happen in Dalit lynchings cases out of the total Atrocity cases launched ! This necessitates strong agitation against inefficient and prejudiced system.
The dalits have to bear the brunt from all the main pillars of democracy. They are victimised by the legislative, executive and judiciary. They have no political power, the police , investigative authority , prosecutions are always hand in glove to make a point clear to them that they will have to remain the servile class in the Indian society because they have the judges on their side who by seeing within the glass of caste are ready to leave the culprits scot-free to continue to commit havoc on such hapless dalits. Now, whom to the Dalits will look for the redressal of their plight?
Khairlanji Massacre case was not a case of mere land dispute or a crime of murder committed on another human for petty cause. The motivation behind the crime was caste hatred. If the motivation is unfounded then what remains is the rubble of many common crimes of murder. It also defeats the purpose of people’s movement which arose spontaneously after Khairlanji Massacre who felt victimised as a community.
Caste prejudiced judiciary it is, what else ? Why shouldn’t there be a discussion on reservation in judiciary ? Arn’t these more pertinent question concerning the life and livelihood of millions living isolated in villages. This is quite vital over the empirical process of development specially when rights of the masses not protected well in a democratic set-up.

3 Responses to “Khairlanji: Court Aberrations or GAME ?”

  1. 1 Roshan Ramteke

    goverment every time want to manipulate the case in order to denied the justice to us it is proven from this judgement that couts are providing justice to upper caste fellow only ,its matter of shame for gov.
    roshan ramteke

  2. 2 Sharmin

    The Judiciary needs to be exposed. What are the castes of these judges. Are they from the upper caste opressing community. In that case any fair trail cannot be assumed. We need to press for dalit judges in the judiciary.

  3. 3 observer

    In Times of India, this was presented as a OBC vs Dalit case.

    In another newspaper reproduced below,
    “Khairlanji was a case of murder spurred by revenge for an earlier case of assault involving the police patil of a nearby village”

    BHANDARA: Ad hoc sessions judge S.S. Das on Monday held eight men guilty of murdering four members of the Bhotmange family in Khairlanji village two years ago but found no evidence to convict them under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Three persons were acquitted of all charges.

    In a verdict that disappointed Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, the survivor of that brutal attack on September 29, 2006, the judge also did not convict any of the 11 accused of charges under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which refers to assault or criminal force with intent to outrage the modesty of a woman. He said what happened in Khairlanji was a case of murder spurred by revenge for an earlier case of assault involving the police patil of a nearby village, Siddharth Gajbhiye. Gajbhiye who was related to the Bhotmanges was a frequent visitor to their house, a fact resented by other people.

    Surekha, Bhaiyyalal’s wife and daughter Priyanka testified in a case of attack by villagers of Khairlanji on Gajbhiye mid-September. The villagers were arrested and released on September 29, 2006 and they sought revenge by attacking and killing the Bhotmange family. Gopal Binjewar, Sakru Binjewar, Shatrughna Dhande, Vishwanath Dhande, Ramu Dhande, Jagdish Mandlekar, Prabhakar Mandlekar and Shishupal Dhande have been convicted of murder (Section 302 of the IPC), rioting, armed with deadly weapons (Section 148 IPC), Section 149 of the IPC which refers to every member of an unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of a common object, and Section 201 of the IPC for destroying evidence or giving false evidence to protect offenders. Regarding charges under Section 354 of the IPC, the court held that the prosecution was not able to establish whether the two women were stripped of their clothes before or after the assault.

    On the two charges under the Atrocities Act, the judge said that Bhaiyyalal’s statement in court and his first information report (FIR) did not mention any caste-related abuse. Eyewitnesses Mukesh Pusam and Suresh Khandate said that they did hear people shouting abuses at both Surekha and Priyanka, but the judge did not consider that as proof.

    The judge has set September 20 as the date for arguments on sentencing. The sentence is likely to be pronounced a few days later. Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said that he received the verdict with mixed reactions. “I am happy that most of the accused are held guilty but at the same time, three are acquitted. The court did not accept our main charge that it was a criminal conspiracy and the entire episode was a result of a caste war,” Mr. Nikam told the press.

    The prosecution is pressing for the maximum penalty. The court relied on the evidence of the eyewitnesses and the two extra judicial testimonies. The judge accepted the evidence of Mukesh Pusam as well as another witness Premlal who saw one of the accused dragging the bodies to the bullock cart. They were later dumped in the Pench canal and only found over the next few days.

    Neeraj Khandewale, the advocate for the defence said the court has ruled out any caste-based atrocity and the three accused who have been acquitted, Mahipal Dhande, Dharampal Dhande and Purshottam Tittirmare, did not figure in the testimonies of any witness. The prosecution could not really establish a case under the Atrocities Act, he pointed out.

    The court discounted the delay in filing the FIR which was over one and a half months late. However, it has issued a show case to Mahadeo Zhanzhad, one of the prosecution witnesses who turned hostile and will initiate proceedings against him for perjury.

    The case, in which four members of the Bhotmange family were bludgeoned to death by a mob, led to widespread protests due to the shoddy investigation and suppression of evidence. The bodies of the two women were exhumed after Bhaiyyalal made a demand as he suspected rape. However, there was no forensic evidence to that effect and the CBI did not include rape as one of the charges.

    The case was handed over to the CBI for investigation and the charge sheet was filed in December 2006. While 35 accused were discharged, 11 were charged with crimes under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act as well as murder, criminal conspiracy, destroying evidence and unlawful assembly. The prosecution examined 36 out of the 70 witnesses listed. Despite several demands, the government did not appoint a fast track court. The trial began in May 2007.

    The two sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities ) Act under which no evidence was produced according to the court are : 3 (1) (10) whosoever intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view; and 3 (2) (v) whosoever commits any offence under the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) punishable with imprisonment for a term of 10 years or more against a person or property on the ground that such person is a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or such property belongs to such member, shall be punishable with imprisonment for life and with fine.

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