Three members of a family belonging to Pardhi tribe, including a father and his two sons, were allegedly murdered by a mob at Mangwadgaon village in Beed district’s Kaij taluka on Wednesday night.
Police have identified the deceased as Babu Shankar Pawar (70), his sons Prakash (50) and Sanjay (46). Police have arrested 12 members of another family, the Nimbalkars, over the murders.
Police suspect the murders were the fallout of a 20-year-old dispute over a 15-acre farm land in Mandwadgaon village between the Pawar and Nimbalkar families. An offence of murder was lodged in this case at the Yusuf Wadgaon police station.
Police said sections 302, 307 of the Indian Penal Code, as well as sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, have been invoked against the accused.
Superintendent of Beed District Police, Harsh Poddar, said, “Investigation has revealed there was a dispute over farm land between Pawar and Nimbalkar families for the last 20 years. Both parties had moved the civil court. A lower court had passed an order in favour of the Nimbalkar family. But later, another court had ordered in favour of Pawars. Currently, an appeal against this order is pending before the High Court…”.
Police said the Pawar family has been living in Ambejogai, about 40 km away, for many years.
Investigation has revealed that on Wednesday, as many as 27 persons from the Pawar family came to Mangwadgaon on their vehicles with their luggage. While police are trying to confirm the reason behind this, it is suspected that the Pawar family wanted to start farming activity on the disputed land as a court had passed an order in their favour.
However, the Nimbalkar family spotted them on the disputed land. Later, in the night, a group of armed persons, allegedly from the Nimbalkar family, reached the spot and questioned them about taking possession of the disputed land.
This led to heated arguments between the two families, following which members of the Nimbalkar family allegedly attacked the Pawar family with sharp weapons, including a sword and axe. Members of Nimbalkar family allegedly also set some two-wheelers of the Pawar family on fire.
Three persons from the Pawar family died in the attack and one woman, Daduli Pawar, was injured. Survivors from the Pawar family called police deployed at a nearby checkpoint for help.
A police team, including SP Poddar, rushed to the crime scene and launched a search for the assailants. “The exact number of persons involved in the attack is yet to be ascertained. We have arrested 12 accused so far and a court has remanded them to police custody for seven days. The weapons used by the assailants are yet to be recovered. Medical reports of arrested accused revealed none of them were injured. Eight more suspects have been detained and further investigation is on,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Rahul Dhas, the investigating officer.
There have been clashes between the Pawar and Nimbalkar families even in the past, said police. “In 2006, an offence of rioting was lodged by the Pawar family against the Nimbalkars. All accused in this case were acquitted by the court in 2012… In July 2019, following an application filed by Pawars, we had taken preventive action against Nimbalkars as per the law,” S P Poddar told The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, the incident triggered unrest among members of the Pardhi community and social activists. Several persons gathered at the government hospital in Kaij taluka, where the post-mortem was conducted. Family members of the deceased had initially refused to accept the bodies for last rites, but finally did so after police assured them of a thorough investigation.
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