New Delhi: For Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, a Dalit farmer in Maharashtra's Khairlanji village, it's been a long wait for justice.
In September 2006, a mob of about 50 villagers attacked his house and lynched four members of his family including his wife Surekha, daughter Priyanka and two sons Dilip and Roshan.
Initially the case was treated as a village feud, but later it was taken up as a case of atrocity against Dalits.
The case was transferred from the local police to the state criminal investigation department to the CBI, but though Bhaiyyalal testified that nearly 50 villagers were involved, the CBI has so far chargesheeted only 11.
Bhaiyyalal had then said: "Pura gaon doshi hai. Jab doshi nahi rehta to koi na koi nikal kar bolta, chod do jane mat maro, jo ho gaya woh hogaya. Lekin woh gaon pura doshi hai, woh gaon pura mitna chahiye." ("The whole village is to blame. If it was not, then someone or the other would have come forward and said, leave them. But no one did and the whole village is to blame.")
The acused are now out on bail and those who came forward as witnesses in the case live in fear.
One of the witnesses, Rajindra Gajbiye says, "After the accused were released on bail, they were celebrating in the village by beating drums and dancing wildly. They were behaving as if they have done something big. Now we are being threatened and we have lost all hope."
The government has since then provided Bhaiyyalal Rs 10 lakh compensation, a house and a job. Four police officers and three medical officers involved in the case have also been suspended for dereliction of duty.
But for Bhaiyyalal, justice will be served only when all the guilty are put behind bars.
- September 29, 2006: Four members of the Dalit Bhaiyalal Bhotmange's family in Khairlanji village of Maharashtra's Bhandara district were killed by fellow villagers in a land dispute. Their mutilated bodies were dumped in a nearby canal.
- The accused were arrested on October 1, 2006.
- The state handed over the case to CBI after widespread protests in across the country.
- The government had suspended four police officers and three medical officers for dereliction of duty.
- The CBI filed a chargesheet against 11 of 46 accused on Dec 27, 2006.
- The trial court framed charges on March 2, 2007.
- The trial began in May 2007 and lasted over a year during which 36 witnesses were examined.
- Two eyewitnesses Suresh Khandate and Mukesh Pusam stuck to their statements while witnesses Mahadev Zanzad and Dinesh Dhande turned hostile.
- The government later offered Bhaiyyalal Rs 12 lakh as compensation, a house and employment.