Curfew was clamped on the communally sensitive satellite township of Kamptee on late on Monday night after an angry Dalit crowd ransacked the police station, roadside vehicles and damaged private and public properties in protest against the Kherlangi dalit massacre.
The police also opened fire when they pelted stones at them and attacked the Kamptee police station. Six police personnel, including three officers, sustained serious injuries and were rushed to the Kamptee Civil Hospital.
Tension mounted in the satellite township when Indora and other predominantly dalit localities of Nagpur witnessed widespread protest taking an ugly turn on Monday evening and protesters went berserk at various places across the city.
The district collector, Dr Sanjay Mukherjee said, "There was minor tension this morning. However, situation is now totally under control. As a precautionary measure we have clamped the curfew."
Parts of Nagpur city, particularly Pratapnagar, Hingna, Medical College Square, Pardi, south Nagpur and Indora areas continue to be tense, a day after protests against the killing of a Dalit family turned violent. The city police used tear gas to disperse protestors at Hingna outside Nagpur city on Tuesday morning. One lady police constable was injured in the area when rioters attacked her.
Anticipating further trouble, the district administration later deployed heavy police personnel, including state reserve police forces in various places in the city and its neighbouring areas to help them in maintaining peace.
The situation has been tense for the last few days in Nagpur city when different Dalit organisations staged dharnas and morchas after visiting Kherlangi and demanded a CBI probe into the matter and arrest of all male-folk of upper caste at Kherlangi.
Arsons and violence also erupted in neighboring districts, including Yavatmal and Bhandara. In Yavatmal, widespread violence incidents witnessed in the city when a strong crowd pelted stones on shops and set afire street vehicles in Ambedkar square, Balajinagar, Patipura, Gandhi square and other places. In retaliations, another group pelted stones on the agitating crowd.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Abdur Rehman, the district police superintendent of police, Yavatmal district admitted that the situation was tense, but under control. “We are seriously considering imposing curfew in the city if such tense atmosphere continues,” he further informed.
Meanwhile, the commissioner of police, SPS Yadav, who was in Mumbai for an official work, air dashed last evening from Mumbai following the volatile situation in Nagpur. Disturbed over the violent outburst in some parts of Nagpur, city police commissioner, Yadav expressed doubt about spontaneity of the violence and declared that the police would investigate all angles including possibilities of whipping up of passion by some organized groups.
Kherlangi episode —at a glance
Kherlangi is a sleepy outpost with a population of 700-odd under the Andhalgaon police station in Bhandara district. There are only three neo-Buddhist (dalit) families residing in the village that is predominantly a Kunbi (OBC) bastion.
It all began with a small incident that occurred on September 3 this year. Siddharth Gajbhiye, also a dalit and a police patil of the neighboring village, Dhusala and a distant relative of Bhotmanges, the victim of the Kherlangi massacre, was beaten up by the villagers of Kherlangi, who suspected that he had an illicit relations with Surekha, wife of Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, now the lone survivor of the family.
Gajbhiye somehow managed to escape and reached Kamptee near Nagpur where he got himself admitted to a hospital. He also filed a complaint with the Kamptee police station, which was later, transferred to Andhalgaon police station. The complaint was registered and an FIR was lodged against the villagers. As Gajbhiye did not know names of the villagers, the Bhotmange family members—particularly his wife, Surekha and daughter Priyanka told the facts to police during the investigation and named the villagers who beat up Gajbhiye.
Subsequently, all of them were arrested on September 29 and later released on bail, just one day before the gruesome killings of Bhotmange family. It was said that the irate villagers returned to Kherlangi and went straight to Bhotmange’s house and mercilessly thrashed Surekha, her daughter, Priyanka, sons Roshan and Sudhir. The young daughter, Priyanka was stripped naked and when her brothers protested, they were beaten up severely. There, both the women were allegedly raped for over an hour before they were hacked to death. Villagers carried their bodies in a bullock-cart and dumped them into a nearby canal.
Bhaiyyalal, who succeeded in fleeing away during the period, returned to his house next day and found his wife, sons and daughter were missing. He then lodged a complaint with the police. They later recovered the bodies from the canal.
Meanwhile, Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, who was in Nagpur on Tuesday and supposed to address a press conference, abruptly cancelled it. Reasons for cancellation of the press conference were not known immediately.
On the other hand, the chief minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh is arriving here on November 10 to visit Kherlangi village. Earlier, the deputy chief minister, RR Patil visited the village twice.