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‘I don’t care for justice,just hope our children never fall in love’

The families allege that the CID never probed the honour killing motives.

Written by SUKANYA SHANTHA | Pune,nashik,malegaon |
January 3, 2014 12:02:18 am

Kalabai Gharu says she does not care for justice anymore. “All I want is to ensure our children do not sleep hungry and none of them ever falls in love,” says Kalabai,58,sitting in her shanty in the Pimple Gurav slums of Pune.

A member of the Mehtar Dalit community and the grandmother of young children,she lost her son Sachin,then 22,to what was apparently an honour killing on New Year’s Day last year. Sachin and two of his friends were killed and their bodies cut into pieces and dumped into a well owned by a powerful Maratha family,the Dharandales,of Sonai village at Ahmednagar.

“They promised swift action,justice,and compensation to the three families. Today,political parties have disowned us and ministers have moved on to the next issue,” says Kalabai.

Sachin was in love with the 20-year-old daughter of the Dharandale family. He had gone to Popat Dharandale’s house that day along with Sandeep Thanwar,24,and Rahul Khandare,20,to clean the septic tank. After the three were murdered,Dharandale and six others were arrested.

Since then,the three families have settled elsewhere,while the accused are being tried miles away with the probe having apparently not covered the honour killing motive.

Of the three killed,only Sandeep Thanwar was married. The social justice department has given his wife,Vaishali,a job at a girls’ hostel in Malegaon,where she now lives with her family. No one in the families of either bachelor was offered a job.

“Our family was completely dependent on Sachin’s earnings,” says Rani Garu,his sister,divorced,who now takes care of her three children and her mother. “After his death we stayed at a temple in Malegaon for a few months,then with a relative in Erandol and now in Pune. Relatives who accommodated us have looted us of the Rs 1.5 lakh we got as compensation.”

A month before the killings,the Thanwars had moved into the workers’ quarters of Trimurti Pawan Foundation in Sonai village. “My husband and in-laws were employed as safai karmacharis in the college,” says Sandeep’s wife. “Sandeep also took up private contracts. He left on new year’s morning and we found his body at Dharandale’s house that night.”

Rights activists and community members took to the streets after the murders and the state called in the CID. “The state ordered the CID investigation to pacify us,but that did not translate into speedy justice,” says Pankaj Thanwar,24,Sandeep’s brother,who is with the Indian Army and has after the murder taken a transfer from Jammu to the Deolali camp in Nashik.

The families allege that the CID never probed the honour killing motive or questioned the girl,who was married off within months. A CID officer says they haven’t closed the investigation yet. The CID has arrested Popat Dharandale,his brothers Ramesh and Prakash,and 19-year-old son Ganesh,besides Sandeep Kurhe,Ashok Navgire and Ashok Phalke,and filed a 600- page chargesheet. “A supplementary chargesheet will be filed if we find more evidence,” the officer said.

The families also feel insecure. “Sonai is predominantly a Maratha village with most of them related to the accused,” says Sagar Khandare,Rahul’s elder brother,who has shifted to Nashik with his wife and children. “At every hearing,some 100 to 150 of them come and intimidate and threaten us.”

The three families have moved the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court seeking a transfer from a special court in Shrirampur — 200 km from Nashik — to either Nashik or Jalgaon. “We also want a lawyer empathetic to the issue,one who understands caste atrocities,” says Sagar Khandare.

They have demanded a replacement for special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam,who they allege rarely attends proceedings. “We sought his help in getting the case transferred and ensure the police put all the evidence together,but he asked us to appoint a separate lawyer,which we have.”

“We have already submitted the draft charges,” Nikam says. “The families have applied for a transfer to another district and we are waiting for an order before proceeding with the trial.”

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