Almost two years after the killings of Dalits in Khairlanji village in Bhandara caused a nationwide outcry, a court will give its ruling on Monday.
A frenzied mob of about 50 villagers attacked the house of Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, a Dalit farmer, Sep 29, 2006, and lynched four members of his family including his wife Surekha, young daughter Priyanka and two sons Dilip and Roshan.
Initially treated as a gory fallout of a village feud, the murders were later seen as a case of atrocity against a Dalit family by caste Hindus, inviting nationwide media attention.
With the case turning into a volatile political issue, the state government transferred investigations from the local police to the state Criminal Investigation Department and then to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The government also suspended four police officers and three medical officers for dereliction besides offering Bhaiyyalal Rs.1.2 million as compensation, a house and employment.
After taking charge of investigation, the CBI filed a chargesheet against 11 of 46 accused in the court of First Ad-hoc Sessions Judge S.S. Dass Dec 27, 2006 but had a tough time marshalling clinching evidence.
That was because there were virtually no witnesses to the killings apart from Bhaiyyalal.
The immediate provocation for the attack was said to be the evidence given by Surekha and Priyanka against 15 of the villagers in a case of beating up of their kin and well-wisher Siddharth Gajbhiye a fortnight earlier.
After the framing of charges March 2, 2007, the trial court recorded the evidence and statements of 36 out of 74 witnesses (originally listed in the case). It heard arguments from both sides and announced Sep 15 as the date of pronouncement of verdict.