People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 21, 2007
Khairlanji: Prevent Denial Of Justice
BARELY had the nationwide shock and outrage against the brutal killings of four dalits in Khairlanji subsided, a systematic attempt is on to sabotage the case by intimidation of key witnesses. The active collusion of local administration, perpetrators of this heinous crime and political leadership continues unabated in an effort to prevent delivery of justice.
The CPI(M) expressed its deep concern at these recent developments in the Khairlanji case and appealed to the central government to ensure speedy justice. Polit Bureau member and MP, Brinda Karat, met the union home minister Shivraj Patil along with key witness Sidharth Gajbhaye on January 16, 2007 in New Delhi and raised this issue. The home minister assured them of appropriate action.
It may be recalled the dominant non-dalit sections of Khairlanji village attacked Sidharth Ghajbaye for trying to stand by the Bhotmange family in their resistance. Surekha Bhotmange and Priyanka Bhotmange were witnesses in the FIR filed regarding this assault. The accused in the case were arrested but released soon on bail. Incensed at the courage displayed by the dalit family, those released on bail led a murderous mob to the Bhotmanges house and dragged the four members present – Surekha Bhotmange (45 years), Priyanka Bhotmange (18 years), Sudhir Bhotmange (20 years) and Roshan Bhotmange (19 years) – to the village centre in a procession and then brutally murdered. The women were paraded naked, raped and murdered. The lone survivor in the family, Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange who fled after seeing the mob, Sidharth Gajbhaye and his brother Rajendra Ghajbaye are the main witnesses to these gruesome killings.
There were huge protests in Maharashtra and rest of the country once this massacre became known after quite some time. The angry protests by dalits in Nagpur and even Mumbai witnessed violence also. Bowing to the furore the Maharashtra chief minister assured constitution of a special court to try this case and also acceded to the demand for appointing a special prosecutor. Now, as Brinda Karat pointed out, the government is backing out on both these promises.
Worse, it is engaged in efforts to intimidate the key witness Sidharth Gajbhaye. Illustrating this he told the press conference held at AKG Bhavan after meeting the home minister that charge sheets have been filed against only eleven persons enabling twenty three persons including two of the main accused to get bail. Shockingly, within two days of their release on bail the accused organised an offensive, drum beating, victory celebration outside his house.
Brinda Karat said that instead of taking strong action against these persons, the local administration has in fact taken measures to demoralise Sidharth Gajbhaye. He has been suspended from his post as Police Patil on a trumped up one year old case. His brother runs a kerosene oil ration shop, which caters to two villages. This is being sought to be closed down. One village has been taken out of its purview and efforts are on to get the remaining village also cancel this shop. Both the brothers are being openly threatened by the accused.
Brinda Karat termed it unfortunate that the earlier assurance given by both the central and state governments for a speedy enquiry through setting up of a Special Court has not been implemented. Even, a request by Sidharth Gajbhaye to appoint his special prosecutor, a well known dalit lawyer, Shashi Bhushan Wahane, has not been accepted. She asserted that there is a threat to Gajbhaye’s family and urgent intervention from the central and state government is required to prevent the occurrence of another Khairlanji. (INN)