Over a year after five men were lynched by a mob in Dhule, 10 accused men were granted bail last month by the Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench, which observed that it has not been alleged that they were involved in the actual commission of the crime. These men had allegedly obstructed a police team from reaching the spot where the victims were being assaulted.
Thirty-five men were arrested by the Pimpalner police on charges, including murder, after five men from the nomadic community, Nath Panthi Davari Gosavi, were lynched on July 1, 2018 at Rainpada in Dhule district.
After suspecting the victims, who were in search of livelihood, to be child-kidnappers based on rumours on the social media, the accused locked the victims in the gram panchayat office and assaulted them with iron rods, chairs, wooden logs and planks.
“…The allegations have been made against them (applicants granted bail) to the effect that they have obstructed the police party, which arrived at village Rainpada, while entering the gram panchayat office where those five persons were confined and subjected to continuous beating by co-accused… there are no allegations about their involvement in the actual commission of crime,” Justice V K Jadhav said in the order.
Other co-accused, accused of assaulting the victims, had also filed for bail but withdrew their applications.
“It appears that several villagers gathered at the spot to protest against the police machinery for their inaction to nab the criminals wandering in the area. These applicants are either farmers or students. They are easily available for the trial,” the court said.
While nine accused — Siddharth Gangurde, Kishor Pawar, Ajit Gangurde, Raju Gavali, Sukmal Kambade, Rajaram Raut, Chunnilal Malich, Bandu Sable and Gulab Gaikwad — were granted bail by the HC, a person named Dipak Gangurde was granted bail by the Dhule sessions court on grounds of parity with others.
The prosecution had objected to them being granted bail by stating that they had obstructed the police party, which was a “specific overt act” in the commission of the crime and that eyewitnesses had named them.
In May, the sessions court had refused bail to three accused, allegedly involved in the assault, stating that the incident had brought about “serious repercussions in the entire nation” and had “tarnished humanity”.
Meanwhile, the state government has appointed Ujjwal Nikam as the prosecutor to argue the case before the trial court.