Sunday, December 6, 2009

[ZESTCaste] Life term for killing Dalits, 30 years on

Life term for killing Dalits, 30 years on

New Delhi, Dec 5: The Supreme Court has sentenced to life six
upper-caste Thakurs for butchering seven Dalits 30 years ago,
overturning a high court acquittal and handing justice to a survivor
who had even approached Indira Gandhi and Jagjivan Ram.

A bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A.K. Patnaik directed the
Uttar Pradesh government to arrest the six within four weeks if they
didn't surrender.

The state government had filed the appeal against Allahabad High
Court's 2001 acquittal of the six and 12 others. The accused had
killed the seven, Harijans and Chamars, after barging into their homes
posing as police officers on September 9-10, 1979, at a village in
Hussainganj near Lucknow. The bodies were thrown in the nearby Ganga
and only one survivor, Kallu, remained as an eyewitness.

The police had passed off the massacre as a dacoity, but the trial
court had rejected the claim and sentenced the 18 to life before the
high court acquitted them on appeal.

Passing the judgment yesterday, the apex court gave the benefit of the
doubt to 11 of the accused. One of the accused had died while the case
was on. The six, who had been in jail a few years before the high
court acquitted them, will have to go back to prison.

Kallu, the survivor, whose wife was among those killed, had told the
court he had sent his complaints "in 50 papers" to Indira and Jagjivan
Ram. He told the court that the police were initially reluctant to
probe the case but did so only at the intervention of a senior leader.

The prosecution examined 32 other witnesses but most of them turned
hostile in the lower courts. The Supreme Court didn't appear
surprised, though.

"In a case of this nature, witnesses turning hostile is not unusual
where upper caste people have created a fear psyche. Witnesses cannot
be faulted for not supporting the prosecution version," the court

The judges said the "findings of the high court are not based on
proper analysis and marshalling of the entire evidence on record".

"The high court ought to have appreciated the mental frame of Jasodiya
(Kallu's wife) when she gave a statement which was construed as a
dying declaration," the Supreme Court said.


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