Justice for the
Killed for speaking up
Saturday, October 07, 2006 22:49 IST
fault was that she had challenged the village upper-caste landlords,”
says Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, 50, a dalit farmer. On September 29, he was
witness to his wife and children being brutally hacked to death, in full
view of his entire village. Their fault: His wife had dared to fight
for possession of a portion of their farm, which was grabbed by the
landlords.While Bhaiyyalal has moved in with his in-laws at Deulgaon
village, 20 kms away, Kherlanji wears a ghostly silence.
state administration, police and the political class, on their part,
have been fighting hard to cover up the ghastly act for a week
now.Bhaiyyalal’s wife Surekha, 44, daughter Priyanka, 18, sons, Roshan,
23, and Sudhir, 21, were first stripped naked, dragged from their hut to
an open ground and hacked to death. He witnessed the killings from
behind a hut where he was hiding.
He now fears
for his life too.Surekha and Priyanka were beaten and gang-raped in full
public view for an hour before they fell dead. “Sticks were pushed into
their private parts,” says a policeman, asking not to be named. The sons
were stabbed repeatedly and their private parts mutilated. Intriguingly,
the post-mortem report says the women were not raped. “Doctors were
managed and the police bribed,” alleges Rashtrapal Narnaware, a cousin.
The police now await the report of a second autopsy by a team of
doctors, who exhumed the bodies on October 5, following pressure.
Bhaiyyalal says the Kherlanji villagers have issued a ‘fatwa’ against
anybody who opens their mouth about the incident. The district SP
Suresha Sagar, said: “This incident is the height of brutality.”Surekha
had testified against the villagers who had assaulted her cousin for
supporting her fight in getting back their portion of land. This had
led to the villagers’ arrest, who avenged the humiliation after getting