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Death sentence commuted to life for six in Khairlanji masscare case

Nagpur, June 14 (Calcutta Tube) The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court Wednesday commuted death sentences to life terms for six accused in the gruesome Khairlanji Dalit family massacre case of 2006.

A division bench comprising Justices A.P. Lawande and R.C. Chauhan delivered the much-awaited final verdict in the case, turning down a plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) challenging the lower court’s ruling giving life to two of the eight accused while sentencing to death six people.

Six people were sentenced to death while two were given life imprisonment by a lower court in 2008. Now it will be life-term imprisonment for all the accused.

Those given death were Shatrughana Dhande, Vishwanath Dhande, Ramu Dhande, Sakru Binjewar, Jagdish Mandlekar and Prabhkar Mandlekar.

The trial court had given life term to Shishupal Dhande and Gopal Binjewar. Three more accused were acquitted.

The horrific incident unfolded on the evening of Sep 29, 2006, when a group of villagers descended on the Bhotmange family in Khairlanji village in Maharashtra’s Bhandara district.

They dragged out Surekha Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, 44, her sons Roshan, 23, Sudhir, 21 and daughter Priyanka, 18, assaulted them brutally, paraded them naked in the village, sexually abused them with sticks and then hacked them to death. The women were gangraped.

The attackers mutilated the private parts of the two sons – all this in full public view of many other villagers.

Surekha’s husband, Bhaiyyalal, who had gone to work in the fields also witnessed the incident while hiding in a nearby hut. He managed to escape the mob brutality.

A few days before the incident – which led to widespread Dalit protests all over Maharashtra – Surekha Bhotmange had lodged a police complaint in a land dispute against some villagers. The attacks on the Bhotmanges were a revenge for Surekha’s daring.

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