January 21, 2017 4:00:20 am
The only survivor of the 2006 Khairlanji Dalit family massacre, Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, died of a heart attack on Friday. He was 62. Bhotmange’s family had been killed by a mob in Khairlanji village, Bhandara district, Vidarbha, on September 29, 2006.
A family acquaintance, Sweety Shende, told The Indian Express, “Bhaiyyalal suffered a heart attack around 1 pm at his home in Bhandara. He was first taken to a local hospital and then referred to Nagpur’s Shrikrishna Hospital, where he died around 4 pm.”
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Dalit activist Ravi Shende said Bhaiyyalal had suffered a paralytic stroke a few months ago. “He will be cremated next to his family members at Deulgaon, about five km from Khairlanji, on Saturday,” Shende said.
Bhaiyyalal was working as a security guard at a government hostel, a job he was given as part of the rehabilitation benefit after his wife Surekha (45) and children Sudhir (21), Roshan (19) and Priyanka (17) were killed.
While the murders had been widely discussed as a case of caste atrocity by upper castes in the village against an aspirational Dalit family, the Bhandara court, had, while sentencing six of the accused to death, ruled out the caste angle. The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court had later commuted the sentence to life imprisonment, ruling that it wasn’t a rarest of the rare case.
The state had then moved the Supreme Court against the judgement. Bhaiyyalal too had moved an intervention plea in the Supreme Court challenging the HC order. It is pending since 2008 and is yet to be listed for final hearing.
Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar expressed grief at Bhaiyyalal’s demise and said, “Bhaiyyalal kept waiting for justice all these years. Now at least, the SC should consider the very important point he had raised in his intervention plea that the higher court must give detailed reasoning for altering the trial court’s verdict. That will be real justice for him.”
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