11 accused, who set Dalit houses on fire, acquitted

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) failed to prove its case in Gohana rioting incedent in which about 50 Dalit houses were set ablaze in Sonipat district on August 31, 2005. Pardeep Sangwan, son of former Sonipat MP Krishan Sangwan, was also an accused.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2012 01:35 IST
Bhartesh Singh Thakur
Bhartesh Singh Thakur
Hindustan Times

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) failed to prove its case in Gohana rioting incedent in which about 50 Dalit houses were set ablaze in Sonipat district on August 31, 2005.

CBI special judge, Haryana, AS Narang, acquitted 11 accused in the case on Monday, including son of former Sonipat MP Krishan Sangwan.There were 14 accused in the case but Master Karan Singh, Mahipal and Khushi Ram died during the trial. They were accused of rioting, being a part of unlawful assembly, giving provocative speeches, and while being armed with sticks and agricultural implements which could cause death they put houses of Balmikis on fire.

In September, 2005, the case was handed over to CBI and it registered it on September 9, 2005.https://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/17-01-12-metro13.jpg

All the witnesses turned hostile in the court. No one identified any of the accused in the court. One of the prosecution witnesses head constable Jagbir Singh simply deposed that he was guarding the official vehicle of SHO and he had not seen any of the accused present in the court near Samta Chowk or in Balmiki Basti on August 31, 2005.

Balwan Singh, who was then Naib Tehsildar and had visited Satsang Bhawan of Gohana where a meeting of Jat leaders were going on, stated in the court that he could not say whether the accused were part of the crowd. Mahender Singh Kundu was also declared hostile as he denied his earlier statement given to CBI. Ram Phal has also not supported the case of prosecution. As per the judgment, Sub Inspector Sat Pal had simply registered the FIR and AGL Kaul, who was IO of the case of the CBI, had not deposed anything against the accused. When the houses were put on fire, the Dalits had already fled by that time so there was no witness among them.

The judgment also pointed out that the CBI case was only related to happenings of August 31, 2005. It read, “I have considered all the evidence on the record. I am of the considered view that there is no sufficient evidence to hold any of the accused guilty. Accordingly, all the accused are hereby acquitted of the charges for which they have been charged.”

After coming out of the court, Pradeep Sangwan told HT, “It was a politically motivated case. My father was a sitting Sonipat MP at that time that was why I was framed. I hope this judgment will give a boost to our political career.”

The case:

Baljit Siwach, a Jat and resident of Gharwal village of Gohana tehsil, was murdered on August 27, 2005. Lara, Shiv Kumar, Bhola and Viru-all Balmikis were booked in the case. As the police were failing to arrest the accused, there was massive discontent and hatred among the Jat community in and around Gohana town.

On August 28, 2005, the body of Baljit was brought and cremated the same day. A meeting of village elders took place on August 29, 2005 at Bari Chopal of Gharwal. A group of youngsters were agitated and they wanted to take revenge on Dalits. On August 30, 2005, Barha Panchayat (comprising 12 villages) assembled and the main speakers were Bhola Ram, Zile Singh ( now dead), Dalbir Singh, Master Karan Singh ( now dead), Nafe Singh and Pardeep Sangwan. In the meeting, everyone was angry and speaking against Balmikis.

Though elders wanted to adopt democratic means but there were some elements who wanted to take violent revenge. An announcement was made that 55 eminent persons would gather the next day at Satsang Bhawan, Gohana, to adopt future course of action. On August 31, 2005, provocative speeches were allegedly delivered at the Satsang Bhawan. Even Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda offered to meet Jat leader.

Zile Singh (now dead) allegedly gave the call to burn down the Balmiki Basti as a Jat boy was brutally murdered-“Phunk Do Is Basti Ko”. Soon after it, the young people there starting raising slogans. At around 12:30 pm at Samta Chowk a crowd started moving towards the Basti along with sticks and agriculture weapons. The crowd had swelled to 1500-1600. They entered the Dalits’ residential area from different sides. They used abusive language against Dalits too. They put on about 50 houses on fire and damaged them. Balmikis had already fled from the scene so there was no human casualty.

List of accused:

* Dalbir Singh
* Rajesh Kumar
* Radhey Shyam
* Rajender Singh
* Pardeep Sangwan
* Bhola Ram
* Lahna Singh
* Manoj Kumar
* Ramesh Kancha
* Balbir Singh
* Nafe Singh

First Published: Jan 16, 2012 20:50 IST