21 get life term for Andhra Dalit killings
A special court passes the landmark judgement for the killing of eight Dalits in 1991.india Updated: Jul 31, 2007 23:52 IST
In a landmark judgement, a special court in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur district on Tuesday sentenced 21 people to life imprisonment for killing eight Dalits in 1991.
The special court set up under the SC/STs Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, also sentenced 35 other accused to one year's rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 each.
Eight Dalits were killed and several others were injured allegedly by upper caste people on Aug 6, 1991 at Tsundur village in Guntur district, about 350 kms from Hyderabad. The houses of Dalits were looted and set afire and several families were forced to flee from Tsundur and adjoining villages.
Pronouncing the verdict in the Tsundur massacre case, the court held 56 people guilty but acquitted 123 other accused for lack of evidence.
While 21 accused were found guilty of murder and were sentenced to life imprisonment, 35 were held guilty of assisting them in the murder and were sentenced to one-year imprisonment each.
The police had filed a chargesheet against 219 accused, out of whom 33 people died during the course of the hearing and seven were let off as police did not find any evidence against them.
The case had been running for nearly 16 years in the country's first-ever special court set up at the scene of an atrocity. Arguments in the long-drawn case had concluded on July 18.
Police had made tight security arrangements around the court to prevent any untoward incident.
A total of 70 witnesses were produced by the prosecution and nine by the defence during the trial.
Several aspects related to the case were fought in the high court and the Supreme Court during the last 16 years, including change of place for the trial.