CBI to probe Dalit killings

Maharashtra Deputy CM RR Patil says investigation into the killings of four members of a Dalit family in September have been handed to the CBI.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2006 03:52 IST

At least 25 people, including seven police personnel, were injured as protesters went on the rampage through Amravati city, some 150 kilometers from Nagpur, to protest the recent Dalit killings in Kherlangi village.

Four members of a Dalit family were killed in Kherlangi in September when they refused to let the villagers build a road through their fields.

Later in the day, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil said the government had handed over the investigation into the killings to the CBI. He also said the protests in Nagpur and elsewhere were "spontaneous reactions" and "had nothing to do with Naxalites", as was reported in some sections of the media.

On Tuesday, the mob went around smashing shops windows, looting goods, destroying vehicles and setting fire to government offices in Amravati. The injured were rushed to the district hospital where three of them are said to be critical.

The crowd that gathered at the collectorate under the banner of the Dalit Action Committee went berserk soon after some of its leaders went to the district collector's office to submit a memorandum on the Kherlangi episode. The mob vandalised almost all the government offices in the Amravati Camp area, including that of the Zilla Parishad, anti-corruption bureau and state treasury office.

The protesters rained stones on the police who initially retaliated by caning the mob and lobbing teargas shells. But when that failed to control them, the police fired in the air. A protester, Nishikant Ramrao Harne, was seriously injured in the firing. Soon enough, rumour spread that Harne had died in hospital but police commissioner Jagan Nath dismissed the reports. At least 10 police personnel were grievously injured.

The city remained tense even after the state reserve police was pressed into service. Amravati police commissioner Jagan Nath claimed security reinforcements and preventive arrests had helped contain the trouble.

Email: pradip.maitra@hindustantimes.com

First Published: Nov 15, 2006 03:52 IST