Cabinet ministers from backward castes have demanded that the Khairlanji mass murder case be reinvestigated.
On Wednesday, the ministers said the Cabinet must discuss why the six convicts, whose death penalty was reduced to life sentence by the high court last month, were not tried under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Four Dalits Surekha Bhotmange (40) and her three children — Priyanka (18), Sudhir (21) and Roshan (20) —were killed by a mob of upper caste Hindus in Khairlanji, near Nagpur on September 29, 2006.
“If the Cabinet can discuss James Laine’s controversial book on Shivaji and the Maharashtra-Karnataka border issue, why not Khairlanji?” Nitin Raut, dairy development and animal husbandry minister, asked Chief Minister Ashok Chavan in the meeting.
Chavan, however, decided to discuss the matter after the Cabinet meeting.
He spoke to a group of senior ministers in the room next to the Cabinet hall but some prominent non-Dalit leaders ignored his call.
This infuriated the Dalit ministers further.
Chavan was not available for comment.
Raut, his colleagues from the Congress, Varsha Gaikwad and Ramesh Bagwe, and NCP’s Laxman Dhoble demanded that the state seek the Centre’ permission to reinvestigate the case that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had probed.
“The Dalit population feels unsafe in this state. It wants the state to use the Atrocities Act effectively,” Raut told journalists after the meeting.
“We have all evidence to prove atrocities against the Dalit family.”
Raut said Chavan has promised to convene a meeting to prepare a strong case later this week. “The CM has said we will meet the Prime Minister so that he can tell the CBI to reopen the case.”