Pradip Kumar Maitra, Hindustan Times,Nagpur, January 19, 2007
There was a new twist to the Khairlangi Dalit tragedy when one of the prime witnesses in the case, Rajendra Gajbhiye lodged a complaint with the Andhalgaon police in Bhandara district for getting life threats and facing casteist abuses from the local NCP legislator Nana Panchbudhe.
Confirming this, the superintendent of police (SP), Suresh Sagar said that Rajendra had lodged a complaint on Friday morning and the police registered an offence against the NCP legislator under 310 of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. "We are investigating the matter and an appropriate action would be initiated accordingly," he added. The offence is a non-bailable one.
Both, Rajendra and his elder brother, Siddharth Gajbhiye, another prime witness in the case, alleged that they were being constantly threatened by a section of upper caste in the district. They had also alleged against Panchbudhe, a trusted lieutenant of union minister, Praful Patel, for protecting the culprits in the murder case, from the beginning and insisted his arrest.
Four members of Bhotmange family — Surekha, her daughter Priyanka, sons Rahul and Sudhir — were on September 29 butchered by a group of villagers at Khairlangi, some 100 kms from Nagpur in Bhandara district.
The incident had sparked protests in various parts of the state and the Maharashtra government finally handed over the probe to the CBI which filed the chargesheet before a fast track court last week at Bhandara. The trial of the case also began.
Meanwhile, Sudhakar Suradkar, a retired IPS officer filed a complaint against the IGP, Pankaj Gupta at Bandara on Friday for suppressing facts in the case.
Alleging castist bias, Suradkar insisted an action against Gupta. Gupta was holding the charge of IGP (Nagpur circle) during the tragedy and the state government had taken action against as many as eight officers, including the civil surgeon of the district and a Dy SP on the basis of his report. The IPS officer, Suradkar personally reached Bandara on Friday morning and filed the complaint against the IGP.