Two Jat families of Kansala village in Rohtak district, whose five members had been killed in a political rivalry in 2001, hope to settle the violent dispute with a barter deal.
The bloody tale started in 2001 when Sanjiv Khokhar and Sher Singh (uncle of Vinod alias Lakhmi Singh, a life convict) contested sarpanch elections against each other. Supporting their candidates, members of the two families started quarrelling over trifles, which deteriorated their relations.
In May 2001, Lakhmi Singh and his supporters, who had heard that Pawan Khokhar (younger brother of Sanjiv Khokhar) was badmouthing members of his family, shot him dead at the village barber’s shop.
Five persons — Rambir, Lakhmi, Satpal, Rajiv and Sher Singh of Kansala — were charged under sections 302 (punishment for murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 25 of the Arms Act in an FIR lodged at Rohtak’s Sampla police station on May 23, 2001. On January 25, 2003, Vinod Jain, additional sessions judge, Rohtak, sentenced them to life imprisonment.
9 cases registered against both groups
After this incident, nine cases under sections of murder, attempt to murder and causing hurt were registered against the members of both groups. In August 2003, Lakhmi’s brother Vijay Kumar was murdered by a group led by Sanjiv. An FIR under sections 302, 148, 364 and 216 of the IPC was registered against Sanjiv and eight others.
In retaliation, Lakhmi, Sonu alias Sunil and others murdered Subhash, who belonged to Sanjiv’s group. Later, Rajender of Sanjiv’s group was also murdered and a case of murder was registered against Lakhmi and Sunil.
Thereafter, Sanjiv’s group retaliated and killed Satyawan, a son of now deceased life convict, Sher Singh. Another murder case was registered against Sanjiv and others.
Suraj Bhan, father of Sanjiv and Pawan, told Hindustan Times: “A panchayat-level agreement was reached by the elders of both sides to put the scuffle to rest in 2005, which resulted in our release from jail after Lakhmi denied our role in the killing of Vinod and Satyawan.”
He said: “What’s the use of continuing such enmity? If it would have continued for some more time only children and women would have been left to fend for themselves, as all men would have been killed in the name of revenge.”
Peace in village top priority, say elders
A village elder and a member of village panchayat said: “A meeting of 84 village panchayats was conducted in which it was decided that both sides should pave way for the release of jailed members of both families and should live harmonously in the village for the sake of society.”
Notably, at present, four members (Rambir, Lakhmi, Satpal and Rajiv) of Sher Singh’s family are languishing in jail after a conviction of life imprisonment by a Rohtak court in 2003.
The Haryana Cabinet, while recommending grant of pardon to the four on Thursday, has taken the ground that societal harmony was at stake due to activities of the both the families against each other.
“Hostilities between the parties in the area became a cause of concern for everybody. It was at this juncture that the respectable of the area intervened and a panchayat was convened. Both the battling groups were also asked to join it. After many rounds of talks, both the groups/families were made to understand by the elders and respectable for settling their dispute amicably. Accordingly, a compromise between the two groups of families was arrived at.”
Trials culminate as groups compromise
It was observed during the cabinet meeting that after this compromise, the criminal trials pending against both the parties culminated with acquittal as the respective parties decided not to depose against other since they had already sunk their differences and as a sign of goodwill, they did not support their respective cases in the court. “The friendly gesture against each other and the consequent development of restoration of normalcy and social harmony in the area was welcomed and appreciated largely,’’ the jails department argued in the cabinet note.
“Meanwhile, the Punjab and Haryana high court dismissed the criminal appeal preferred by the petitioners against the judgment of Additional Sessions Judge, Rohtak sentencing them to life.
The plea of the compromise between the parties well supported by the state did not find favour with the court and was not found to be tenable by the court as the offence under section 302 is not compoundable. It proved detrimental to both the parties and the ongoing peace process in the area. Other consequences offending social harmony which are not in good taste may also follow. Leader of one group Sher Singh who is also a convict in this case committed suicide,” it said.