A K Biswas
(First published in 'Mainstream Weekly' in September 2010)
"If someone takes someone's life (deliberately and not accidentally) then he forfeits the right to his life".
~ John Stuart Mill
The judgment delivered by a Division Bench in quadruple murders of members of the Bhotmange family, village Khairlanji, district Bhandara in Maharashtra left everyone with a sensitive mind shocked and dismayed. Surekha Bhotmange and her 18-year-old daughter and two sons, including one who was disabled, were brutally murdered by an upper-caste mob on September 29, 2006.
The Bench concluded that the accused, who were sentenced to death by the District and Sessions Court, Bhandara, were not driven by hatred against the Bhotmange family members, who were Scheduled Castes. The High Court held that the accused took revenge! This sounds like a joke widely prevalent in pre-independence India. The bureaucracy often termed starvation death as death due to malnutrition.
Justice and fairness of treatment for the victims belonging to the socially disadvantaged is practically non-existent in India. In denying justice, very sound and cogent reasons and arguments couched in ceremonial legalese are advanced on behalf of the aggressors to satisfy analytical quest. However, the caste system, needless to note, prompts discrimination, which undoubtedly is the root cause for denial of justice to the Dalits and adivasis. Khairlanji is a case in point.