People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 25, 2007
‘Prevent Subversion Of Justice’
CPI(M) MP Appeals To PM
The following is the text of the letter written by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and MP, Brinda Karat to prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh on February 20, 2007 regarding …
YOU had kindly intervened in the Khairlanji dalit case when four members of a dalit family in the said village, including a mother and daughter, were subjected to savage violence and then brutally killed. When I had met you on this issue on November 15, last year, you had readily accepted the just appeal of the surviving family members and the dalit community for a CBI inquiry and had also assured the country that justice would be done. It is for this reason that I write to you to apprise you of recent developments which are a matter of deep concern. The next hearing in the case is on February 22, so the matter is extremely urgent.
On February 12, in a surprising and unprecedented move, the CBI filed an application before the court in Mohadi to discharge 36 of the 47 accused in the case on the plea that there was no evidence against them. Normally, the "benefit of doubt" argument used by the CBI for such a discharge, is done through a judicial process after the trial has started. Such leniency at the stage of filing a chargesheet in a mob attack case is, to say the least, entirely misplaced. Those sought to be discharged include men who were among the leaders of the mob. Cases against two of the main culprits have been withdrawn and they have been listed as eyewitnesses against the accused. This is quite different from the accused turning approvers after the trial has started on the basis of a case registered against them and with the permission of the court. If they are struck off the list of accused at the time of chargesheeting, it is more than likely that once the trial starts they will withdraw their statements, help their partners in crime and ensure the sabotage of the case.
Shockingly, the CBI has also proposd that the doctors and police officials who were responsible for the destruction of evidence, which in fact necessitated the CBI inquiry in the first place, should also be discharged. Indeed the actions of the CBI as far as discharge of doctors and police personnel are concerned have actually undone some of the remedial measures which had been taken by the state police following the exposures of the said personnel’s complicity in the case through the destruction of evidence.
It is reported that inspite of repeated pleas by local dalit committees no narcoanalysis tests were done on the accused or officials involved of complicity in the crime.
Unfortunately even the assurance of the chief minister of Maharashtra accepting the plea of the surviving family members to appoint a particular senior advocate in whom they have confidence as special prosecutor has not been implemented. I had personally spoken to the chief minister on this issue and had been told by him that he had already given necessary instructions on this but I regret that in fact no such appointment has as yet taken place.
In the meanwhile open threats are being made against the relations of the Bhotmange victims. In particular Siddhartha Ghajvaiye and his family are under attack. Instead of taking a sympathetic view and helping them, the local administration has taken a series of vindictive steps against them which I had apprised the chief minister about. For example, a year-old case against him has been suddenly revived and he had been removed from the post of police patil, further strengthening the anti-dalit forces who have targeted him.
These developments have caused widespread concern in the dalit communities in the areas. Further, whereas the actions of the administration and now even the current CBI probe does not inspire confidence, the large number of cases against dalits have not been withdrawn although such an assurance had been given by the chief minister.
I request you to once again intervene in the matter to see that the processes of justice are not subverted by lax or biased investigation. Kindly consider the issues I have raised on an urgent basis since the CBI application for discharging the accused is coming up for hearing shortly in the Bhandara sessions court.