Even as different parts of the State seethed with violence and arson over the brutal Dalit killings in Kherlangi, the Chief Minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, air-dashed to Nagpur, on Friday morning and rushed down to Kherlangi to meet the sole survivor of the ill-fated family, Bhhaiyalal Bhotmange.
Deshmukh told Bhotmange that the State has no objection to a CBI probe into the gruesome killings. While there, he also promised Dalit groups that his government would grant compensation and also investigate the matter thoroughly. The government will provide a compensation of Rs 12.5 lakh to Bhotmange and a job of a watchman in a government hostel at Tumsar in Bhandara district.
However, Bhotmange rejected the offer of the government to provide him a job. “I want maximum punishment for the guilty persons,” he straightway told Chief Minister when Deshmukh met him this morning.
“We have given him an offer of job when he submitted a memorandum in this regard during the visit of social welfare minister at Kherlangi. Now it is upto him, whether he accepts the offer or reject it,” the chief minister said. The state government will also provide housing and a three-acre of land elsewhere to Bhotmange for farming. The victim has made it clear that he would not return to Kherlangi where he lost everything.
Faced with strong criticism over its delayed response, the government has said it will set up a committee to specifically look at atrocities committed against the Dalit community. “The government is totally satisfied with the on-going CID probe. The government has directed the agency to complete the inquiry within a month. However, if a CBI probe is needed as most of the organisations and Bhotmange himself insisted, the state has no objection to it. We will talk with the CBI personnel and if they can spare sufficient personnel and complete the probe in a time-bound period, the government would go for it,” he made it clear.
Deshmukh also had talk with the Kherlangi village sarpanch and villagers, including family members of two dalit families. “They also want that the guilty should be dealt with firmly,” he informed.
According to him, the state government will approach the High court for setting up of a fast track court to ensure that swift justice is done to the family.
Wife, two sons and daughter of Bhaiyyalal were killed at Kherlangi on September 29 because he did not allow the upper caste villagers to build a road over his field. The police initially refused to register a case and it was only after sustained pressure from local dalit activists that an FIR was filed and some of the accused were arrested.
But investigations into the case are still dragging on, hampered by the absence of eyewitnesses because none of the villagers are willing to come forward and tell the police what happened that day.
Meanwhile, the chief minister held a meeting with senior government officials and police personnel to assess the law and order situation in Nagpur and its neigbbouring areas in the wake of outburst of Kherlangi episode.