ibnlive » India

Jun 20, 2007 at 08:48am IST

Khairlanji: Dalit murder trial begins

Nagpur (Maharashtra): It has been more than seven months since Bhaiyalal Bhotmange's family of four was brutally massacred by upper caste villagers in Khairlanji.

The CBI, which has been investigating the murders, has been able to chargesheet only 11 of the accused as of yet. The matter is now up for hearing, but the prosecution alleges that witnesses to the massacre are being threatened

Says prosecution lawyer, Ujjawal Nikam, "I have been told that certain persons are threatening prosecution witnesses. I have instructed local police agencies to keep a close vigilance on such persons."

Though security was provided to some witnesses, the guards themselves have come under suspicion.

Says Khairlanji Action Committee's Asit Bagre, "The guard appointed to ensure security for the witness actually started threatening the witness. He was later suspended."

The defence, on its part, has denied all these allegations. Says defence lawyer, Sanjay Lakhnikar, "These allegations are baseless as the accused are all in jail."

Seven months ago, the Khairlanji killings had sent shock waves across Maharashtra and there were violent protests at many places, after which a CBI inquiry was ordered.

But with the recent allegations of threat to witnesses, it seems the wait for justice could prove long for Bhaiyalal Bhotmange.