A day after five people were lynched in Maharashtra’s Dhule district, four of them from Mangalwedha, more than 500 people gathered at the town’s circle office in Solapur district on Monday, angry, protesting, and demanding justice and compensation for the victims’ families.
As local politicians held discussions with leaders of Dawari Gosavi, a nomadic tribe as per the state list and the community to which all five victims belonged, community elders said they have traditionally gone outside seeking alms. After the lynching incident, most men are returning, worried about their safety, and putting their families’ future at stake, they said.
In a corner outside the circle office stood Chandrakant Bharat Malve, 11, his eyes red from crying for hours, still trying to come to terms with his father’s death.
Four of the five victims of the Dhule lynching were from Mangalwedha. While Bharat Bhosale (50), his younger brother Dadarao (35) and Bharat Malve (55), Chandrakant’s father, were from Khave village, Agnu Shrimant Hingole (20) came from nearby Manewadi village. The fifth victim, Raju Bhosale, was from Karnataka and was related to Bharat and Dadarao Bhosale.
The last rites will be held on Tuesday morning.
Gorakhnath Bhosale, a cousin of Bharat and Dadarao, said, “Men from our community travel seeking alms in the name of our deities. Farming here is mostly rain-fed — land holding per person is anyway little, and decreasing over the years. (So) the men travel for two or three months at a stretch, stay in the village for a month, and then go back. These five people had left the village in April.”
Gorakhnath said the population of Dawari Gosavi community is around 5,000 in villages such as Manewadi, Khave and Kinnur in Solapur district. “Many of our people traveling elsewhere in Maharashtra, and even other states, are (now) returning, fearing that they would be targeted similarly.”
Bharat Bhosale’s mother-in-law Shevantabai said, “They had gone to seek alms. What was their crime? Those who have killed them are not humans — they are monsters.”
Machhindra Bhosale, a local leader of Dawari Gosavi community, said, “People need to be told that those murdered were not thieves, as is wrongly being spread. There was no past criminal case against them. Our community has traditionally had little access to resources and employment, and I hope at least now our government will look at our plight.”
Machhindra said the community has demanded speedy prosecution of the accused, ex-gratia compensation, rehabilitation and government jobs for family members of the victims.
Prashant Paricharak, the MLC from Solapur, told the protestors that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced compensation of Rs 10 lakh per person, and that a fast-track court will be set up for the trial.
Bharat Bhosale is survived by wife Narmada and four children, Dadarao by wife Sangeeta, and Bharat Malve by wife Shanta and four children.
Hingole was not married and is survived by his mother Kalpana and two younger brothers.