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Kheirlanji Massacre

Justice for the

Killed for speaking up

Jaideep Hardikar

Saturday, October 07, 2006 22:49 IST KHERLANJI (Bhandara)

“Surekha’s 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.

 The 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 bail.

source: DNA news service




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