Jaideep Hardikar, DNAINDIA.COM
Monday, November 13, 2006
Many in Bhandara city are seeing this as a move to counter the protests over the Kherlanji massacre
Countering dalit outbursts in the aftermath of the Kherlanji massacre, the saffron brigade, which had kept silence over this incident, joined hands on Monday. It brought Bhandara city to naught by raking up a case of alleged rape and murder of a 10-year-old minor OBC girl by a history-sheeter, belonging to the scheduled caste. The bandh, which didn't have the collector's permission, was a success.
The business establishments took no chances, even as the activists of Bajrang Dal, the VHP, the Shiv Sena and the BJP took out a morcha and demanded that the culprit be brought to book. "Why is the dalit accused being shielded by the police?" the protestors, who mobilsed the OBCs in Bhandara, asked the administration. "The girl's mother wants justice," the activists
The accused, Sudhakar Ramteke, had allegedly taken the victim Ankita Lanjewar to an isolated place near Berodi village, where he raped her, before killing her. The incident had taken place on October 13 this year, but the accused is still at large. The Bhandara police said Sudhakar is wanted in 33 criminal cases.
"This crime too is heinous but can't be seen as a parallel to the Kherlanji incident," the police said.
Yet, the Monday's bandh clearly indicates a polarisation among communities in the district on caste lines, a Bhandara police officer told DNA.
The police admitted that it was a cause of concern. "The politics is taking an ugly turn, because a spark might lead to violent fallout against dalits," he feared. That was why the district administration had refused permission to the bandh call.
But persistent with their demand, some of the Bajrang Dal activists sought police protection for the victim's mother, Kalpana Lanjewar, saying she faced threat to her life from the accused. Significantly, though the Congress and NCP leaders in Bhandara did not come out in the open, they did support the bandh, sources in the police revealed.
Sporadic incidents of arson and road-blockages were reported from that city, but there was no loss to life or property, the police said.