This tiny village of less than 800 people has neither a primary health centre nor a secondary school. But it may soon get a police chowki, and become possibly the country’s smallest village to have one.
Try as it will, this village in Maharashtra’s Bhandara district finds it hard shake off the stain of the horrific murders of four members of the Dalit Bhotmange family nearly four years ago by their Hindu neighbours higher up the caste ladder.
“The Bhotmange episode cannot become a permanent blot on us,” said Hasan Sadashiv Dhande, the head of the village council, the sarpanch, two days after the high court commuted to a 25-year jail term the death sentence that the trial court handed to six of the 11 accused men.
“It was a terrible incident, but there is no threat to the other two Dalit families in the village,” said Dhande.
Earlier this year, the village even won the state’s annual ‘Dispute-Free Village Award.’
But the incident is clearly not a closed chapter.
The Bhotmange family’s only survivor, Bhaiyyalal, 52, is deeply unhappy about the high court verdict, which said that government had not been able to prove that caste had played a role in the murders. “I have not got justice,” said Bhaiyyalal, who lives in Bhandara town as a government boys’ hostel guard.
The Bhandara district police, who made a proposal to the state for a permanent police post, are nervous.
Right after the murders, they temporarily posted policemen in the village, but they never left. Then after the high court verdict, they began patrolling the village and its environs more aggressively, their wireless radios crackling incessantly.
“It’s a small village, but the incident necessitates a chowki,” said P. Gawai, Bhandara’s additional superintendent of police.