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Bhandara court orders CBI to prove charges

The fast track court asked the investigating agency to produce all the relevant evidence, reports Pradip Kumar Maitra.

india Updated: Jan 29, 2007 23:25 IST

The fast track court of Bhandara where the trial of Khairlangi Dalit killings began last fortnight asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to substantiate its charge-sheet against the accused by February 12 next.

The CBI on Monday produced all the 11 accused before the Fast Track Court of SS Das. Ejaj Khan, the counsel of the CBI had argued on behalf of the agency and asserted that there were enough evidences that established that these 11 were involved in the brutal killings of Bhotmanage family.

Four members of Bhotmange family — Surekha, her daughter, Priyanka, sons Rahul and Sudhir — were mercilessly butchered by a group of villagers at Khairlangi, some 100 kms from Nagpur in Bhandara district, on September 29 last year. Only Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, husband of Surekha, survived in the mob attack.

While hearing the argument of Khan, the Court directed him to produce all the relevant evidences on February 12. Rakesh Saxena argued on behalf of the accused of Khairlanji massacre.

Meanwhile, six more accused of the massacre were granted bail by the Court of first class judicial magistrate, Bhandara on Monday. With this, as many as 34 persons, who were charged with the murders, were released on bail by the court.

The court released them on bail as their names were not figured in the charge-sheet filed by the CBI. The Court released them on the surety of Rs 25,000 in cash and solvency of the same amount from each person.

The accused have been directed by the court not to leave Khairlangi village without prior permission of the police station concerned. Earlier, 28 accused of the case were granted bail by the court.

Persons who were released by the court today include: H Dhande and his wife, Kamal Dhande, reportedly relatives of the NCP legislator of the area, Nana Panchbudhe.

Rajendra Gajbhiye, one of the key witnesses of Kahirlangi Dalit killings, alleged that Panchbudhe was trying to protect the accused of the case as his own relatives, Dhande couple was involved in the case.

He also accused Panchbudhe for threatening him and hurling casteist abuses. Rajendra had lodged a complaint with the Andhalgaon police station against the NCP legislator and insisted his immediate arrest.

Though, the local police filed a case against Panchbudhe under the section of 310 of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, no action was initiated against the MLA by the authorities so far.

Rajendra and his brother, Siddharth had exposed the entire district administration, including the NCP MLA, along with Bhaiyyalal, the lone survivour of Bhotmange family, for its casual approach on the heinous crime.

It was alleged that Khairlanji tragedy could have been averted had the administration and the police been sensitive and taken timely action. The incident sparked violent protests in various parts of the state and the state government finally handed over the probe to the CBI.

The district police and the state CID, the then investigation agencies, arrested 47 villagers including the sarpanch Upasrao Khandate and deputy sarpanch, Urkunda Khurpe of Khairlangi.

However, the CBI which filed the charge sheet before the court a few days ago framed only 11 villagers in the murder case while found rest of them innocent.

Both, the sarpanch and his deputy were not figured in the CBI list of accused, and hence they also got the bail from the court last month.

Email Pradip Kumar Maitra: pradipmaitra@hindustantimes.com

First Published: Jan 29, 2007 23:25 IST