Govt on backfoot on Dalit massacre finding

The state government is finding itself on a sticky wicket on the issue of Khairlangi Dalit massacre, reports Pradip Kumar Maitra.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2006 05:36 IST

The state government is finding itself on a sticky wicket on the issue of Khairlangi Dalit massacre with two contradictory reports, prepared by its own agencies!

While the Vilasrao Deshmukh government had dismissed eight government officials, including five police personnel on the basis of IG Pankaj Gupta's report on Khairlangi episode, another government agency, Yashada accused the senior police official Gupta for taking bribe to mislead the government on this sensitive issue.

The panicky state government on Tuesday ordered a high level inquiry to probe the matter. The Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh wondered how the report was leaked before it was being submitted to the government.

The chief minister held a meeting with the chief secretary DK Shankaran on the issue this morning and instructed him to find out the officials, who were behind the leakage of the report.

Talking to Hindustan Times, Shankaran admitted that it was an embarrassment for the state government that the report was leaked in the media on the opening day of the winter session of the state legislature where Khairlangi was a hot issue. "The inquiry committee will also examine the 'right of propriety' of the Yashada to conduct such an inquiry and why the inquiry teams failed to meet Gupta and other senior officials to take their versions before making the report," he added.

If government finds any deliberate attempt to malign the government on the eve of the Assembly session, necessary action would be initiated against the concerned, he added.

The report was commissioned by the Centre for Equity and Social Justice of Pune-based government agency Yashwantrao Chavan Institute of Development Administration (Yashada), a state government agency. A seven-member team of YASHADA, headed by the additional director, RL Chavan visited Khairlangi and Nagpur between November 3 and 9 and prepared a report. It was prepared under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute.

The report says Pankaj Gupta, special inspector general of police (IGP) at Nagpur, "made a premature and irresponsible" public statement that the Khairlanji incident did not involve rape on female victims. "It is learnt from the public that Gupta accepted a bribe from the interested elements to make such a statement", the report said.

Talking to Hindustan Times, Gupta retorted, "I will take a legal action against Yashada for maligning me." He claimed that he had visited Khairlangi at least 40 times after the incident and booked all the erring police officials for dereliction of their duties.

"It is unfortunate that the Yashada team did not bother to meet me during their visit at Khairlangi and Nagpur," he regretted and asserted that he would file a defamation suit against them, soon. "Presently, I am studying the report. Suitable action against those persons will be initiated within the next couple of days," he further added. Gupta also met the DGP PS Pashricha in this connection on Tuesday and briefed him about the development.

Four members of a Dalit family were brutally killed at Khairlangi in September this year because they refused to let them build a road over their land. Two of them - Surekha and Priyanka were allegedly raped before they were killed. The report severely indicts senior cops and doctors for their attempt to cover up the rape and has recommended stringent action against them.

The report alleged that the Special IG Nagpur, Gupta, did not visit Khairlanji until 14 days later and even went on record to say there was no rape. The report is also critical of state DGP Pasricha for not visiting the site.

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First Published: Dec 06, 2006 05:36 IST