THE FAMILY of Swapnil Sonawane — the Dalit boy killed in Navi Mumbai earlier this year allegedly by the family of a girl he was in love with and whose family disapproved of his caste — has pleaded to be granted a compensation of Rs 8.25 lakh as opposed to the sum of Rs 5 lakh offered by the state.
Their demand was made in accordance with the amended provision of the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 2015.
While the Centre issued a notification on the change in compensation amount in January this year, the state is yet to issue one. “The law was amended in August last year and we are now entitled for a compensation of Rs. 8.25 lakh. Last week, we met the chief minister and brought a couple of our demands to his notice. We have been assured that the government will soon issue a Government Resolution (GR) and we would get compensation according to the revised provisions,” Shahaji, the 15-year-old victim’s father, said.
According to sources in the government, Minister for Social Justice & Special Assistance Rajkumar Badole recently discussed the issue with senior police officers and government officials. “The issue pertained to the eligibility of the Sonawane family for the new compensation. The question is whether the compensation could be retrospective. Legal opinion is being sought,” said a senior official.
Other than the monetary compensation, the Sonawane family has sought criminal action against two suspended police officers who the family claims failed to intervene in the case and save Swapnil. “Since the CM is also the Home Minister, we have requested that the two suspended officers — Sonali Rajguru and Yogesh Mane —be arrested,” Shahji added.
In the past, the family had also written to the Navi Mumbai Police chief Hemant Nagrale to act against the two officers. Swapnil’s mother Gauri has said her son would not have lost his life had the police intervened in the case. Gauri, in her letter, said she had gone to the police station on July 18 and July 19 along with Swapnil but the officers there did not pay heed to their complaints.
“When I was at the police station, sub-inspector Sonali Rajguru insulted and intimidated me and helped the girl’s family escape criminal action. She even helped destroy evidence.” the letter reads.
On July 18, Swapnil was allegedly beaten up in an autorickshaw and forcefully taken to the police station by the girl’s brother and his associates. Gauri was then summoned to the Nerul police station. The following day, Swapnil’s father Shahaji also approached the police station but no complaint was registered. Swapnil was allegedly killed a few hours later.
Investigators and the victim’s parents had alleged that the boy was killed because he belonged to a different caste. The girl belongs to the OBC Agri community. The police have arrested the girl’s parents, her two brothers, and two cousins in the case along with accomplices. The 16-year-old girl was also booked in the case.
The Sonawanes’ last demand pertains to the setting up of a special court to hear the case so that the case is fast tracked and the justice is delivered soon. “The amended law has a provision of setting up a Special Court for hearing a case registered under the Act and we have therefore sought the same,” Shahaji added.