The verdict in the Khairlanji killings, where four members of a Dalit family in Bhandara district of Maharastra were paraded naked, tortured, sexually assaulted and then beaten to death, is certainly a historic one considering the fact that accused gets punishment in a case involving the murder of people belonging to a lower caste.
The other most important fact is that a session court pronounced the verdict awarding death penalty to six and life imprisonment to two within two years of the incident. In contrast, the court however rejected to define the particular case under the Atrocities Act and instead termed it as a murder. This further raises a new debate whether these kinds of cases can be brought into the Act or not.
Khairlanji massacre of the Bhotmange family in which Surekha (45), her 17-year-old daughter Priyanka, and two sons, 23-year-old Roshan and 21-year-old Sudhir were brutally murdered in front of the family head Bhaiyyalal Bhotmanage - the lone survivor of the family-had erupted reaction from Dalit community across the India. This had forced the Maharashtra government to handover the case to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Though the incident was a result of some personal feud, say it the land dispute or some other, but indisputably is just another example of atrocities on Dalits or marginalised section i.e. rampant in India. Although special laws are there to protect the lower class, but many a times cases are either not registered by police or if even done so, long judicial trail and various loopholes in our judicial system only results in a very less number of conviction.
Moreover, the whole approach from the authority in the case whether it’s the police or local politicians was disparaging for which they had been questioned for alleged cover-up ever since the incident came to the national notice. As per reports, CBI was only able to file chargesheet against 11 of the original 47 accused; eventually, only eight sentenced while others were discharged.
From here on taking the gruesome act, the state government should appeal in the higher court challenging the release of other accused and also the charges of rape and atrocities not being proven. Certainly the verdict is not the end, if it has to serve a bigger reason- in order to provide protection to the rights of the members of the lower castes.
Read More: Bhandara
SamSeptember 26, 2008 at 12:00 AM