THIRTY-FIVE men, booked for lynching five persons in Dhule last year, are set to face trial on charges including murder. The trial is likely to begin next week and a sessions court in Dhule has sent summons to five witnesses for the same.
On November 13, the court had framed charges against the accused, including murder, stating that there is ground to presume that the accused did commit the offences for which they were booked by the police.
On July 1, last year, the 35 men were part of a mob at Rainpada in Dhule that allegedly lynched five men belonging to the Nath Panthi Davari Gosavi, a nomadic community, following rumours on social media that “child kidnappers were on the prowl”. The five victims, who had come to Rainpada in search of livelihood, were allegedly attacked by the mob, locked in the gram panchayat office and beaten to death.
“On persual of record, it seems that accused persons, along with absconding accused, formed unlawful assembly and in prosecution of common object of said assembly they brought five innocent persons… to the gram panchayat office of Rainpada on their perception that they were child lifters. Thereafter, they brutally committed their murder with the aid of stones, bricks, iron rods, wooden logs and planks,” Additional Sessions Judge S R Ugale said.
The court framed charges including murder, rioting, kidnapping or abducting in order to murder, act endangering life or personal safety of others, assaulting or using criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of their duty, wrongful restraint and wrongful confinement under the IPC. The men have been booked under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. The accused, through their lawyers, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
While contending that they were not involved in the murder and the prime accused are still absconding, they stated that the only allegation against them is that they restrained police personnel from carrying the bodies of the victims to the hospital. They submitted that the alleged offence does not attract the charge of kidnapping.
The prosecutor in the case claimed that there was ample evidence to show that the accused, along with the absconding accused, were part of an unlawful assembly, abducted the five victims and murdered them.
Earlier, the Bombay HC’s Aurangabad bench and the sessions court had granted bail to 10 of the accused, observing that their roles were confined to obstructing the police from reaching the gram panchayat office where the victims were allegedly held captive and being beaten up.
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