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Dalits' murder sentencing today

IANS
Sep 24, 2008 at 05:39pm IST

Bhandara (Maharashtra): The much awaited pronouncement of punishment to the eight people convicted of killing four Dalits in Khairlanji village of Maharashtra will be made today, September 24, the trial court had announced on Saturday.

The first ad-hoc sessions judge, S S Dass, who on Monday convicted eight of the 11 accused in the case for murder of four members of a family in Khairlanji of Bhandara district, heard earlier in the day the arguments of prosecution and defence on the quantum of punishment and fixed it for today for his pronouncement.

While special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam made a forceful plea for capital punishment to all guilty of the "frozen blooded" murder of the wife and three children of Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, a farmer, on September 29, 2006, defence counsel Sudip Jaiswal and Neeraj Khandewale pleaded for leniency in view of the act committed in the heat of the moment and clean past record of the accused.

The arguments were heard amid unprecedented security arrangements in and around the court premises with curfew imposed in parts of the city and Khairlanji in view of the sensitivity of the case that had triggered violent agitations in many parts of the state.

The court took a serious note of "indiscriminate" statements by activists and sections of the media on the September 15 verdict including casting of aspersions and demands regarding the nature of punishment and said it amounted to efforts to influence the course of justice.

Several social and political leaders had deprecated the acquittal of three accused and dropping of the charges of atrocity and conspiracy by the court that held that the mob attack on the Bhotmange household was neither premeditated nor motivated by caste animosity.

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