The family of Nitin Aagey, a 17-year-old Dalit boy who was killed, allegedly by some members of the Maratha community, in broad daylight at Kharda village in Jamkhed taluka of Ahmednagar district in 2014, continues to wait for justice almost five years after the gruesome murder.
The accused arrested in connection with the murder case were acquitted by the district and sessions court in Ahmednagar on November 23, 2017 after the key witnesses turned hostile. In December that year, the state Law and Judiciary Department had issued orders for legal action against the witnesses who turned hostile. The prosecution lawyer then filed an application before the district and sessions court in Ahmednagar.
Advocate Nitin Satpute, who was later appointed as the special public prosecutor in the case, said, “The court has issued notice to the hostile witnesses to prosecute them. The witnesses have filed their say before the court. The next hearing is on May 4.”
The state government had also filed an appeal before the Aurangabad bench of High Court against the acquittal order passed by the lower court. “The appeal is pending for admission before the High Court,” said advocate Umeshchandra Yadav, who has been appointed the special public prosecutor for this case.
Advocate Vilas Lokhande of Beed district, who has been helping Nitin’s family in legal matters, said, “There are major loopholes in the investigation. The killers are moving freely. It’s painful for the family.”
Nitin, who was from a poor Dalit family, was a HSC student at a school run by the Rayat Education Society. He also worked as a two-wheeler mechanic.
On the morning of April 28, 2014, he was allegedly attacked in the premises of the school by the assailants as they suspected him of having a relationship with the sister of one of the assailants.
They took Nitin to a brick kiln and assaulted him with a blunt wooden object before taking him to some bushes and strangling him with a rope. He was hanged from a tree to make the incident look like a suicide.
Nitin’s father Rajendra alias Raju Agey, who then worked at a stone crushing unit, had lodged the first information report in this case at the Jamkhed police station. Police had arrested 10 people, including the girl’s brother and uncle, on charges of murder and sections of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
One accused committed suicide during the trial while the others were acquitted by the court, which cited insufficient evidence after 14 of the 26 witnesses, including the staff and teachers of the school where Nitin was attacked, turned hostile. Three minors were also apprehended by the police on charge of murder, but all of them were released by the Juvenile Justice Board.
“Not just teachers and staffers from the school, even a witness, who is my relative and a Dalit himself, turned hostile in court… initially, there were agitations and rallies to condemn my son’s killing. But later, the protests dried up.
Nobody told me about the date of the court judgment, so I was not even in the court when the order acquitting the accused was passed. Demand for fast track court was not considered. I am not educated and don’t understand what is going on in the courts now…I had received about Rs 20 lakh in financial help, but have nothing much left as I was misled by many who pretended to support me. I do not earn much. Just three months ago, the government has given a job to my daughter in a government hostel,” said Raju.
He and his wife Rekha had a son about four years ago and they decided to name him Nitin, after the son they had lost. The family, which still lives in Kharda village, has been granted police protection.
“The campaign for Lok Sabha elections was in full swing… we have voted. But no candidate approached us and talked about Nitin’s murder,” said Raju.
Five years after her son’s murder, Rekha Aagey has a question, “Nitin was murdered in broad daylight. Still, all those arrested by the police for his murder were released by the court. Then who killed Nitin?”