All 269 guilty in Vachathi mass rape, assault case


Dharmapuri (Tamil Nadu): Nearly two decades after a brutal assault on tribals by police, forest and revenue officials in Vachathi village and the rape of 18 women, all the 269 accused were found guilty by a court here and sentenced to different terms of imprisonment.

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Twelve of them were jailed for 17 years for rape while five other rapists were sentenced to five years imprisonment by Dharmapuri principal district judge S. Kumaraguru.

Of the 269 held guilty, 54 passed away during the trial.

While the maximum punishment was handed out to the rapists, others have been sentenced to jail terms of one year or two years.

The gruesome assault on over 100 tribals and rape of 18 women that had sent shockwaves across Tamil Nadu took place on June 20, 1992 when the large number of government officials raided suspecting the villagers were hiding smuggled sandalwood.

Vachathi is in Krishnagiri district, neighbouring Dharmapuri, and is about 250 km from Chennai.

Apart from rape and assault, the other charges against these government officials were atrocities against tribals.

Of 215 sentenced to various prison terms, 126 belong to forest department, 84 are policemen and five are revenue officials.

The prosecution case was during the raid on Vachathi village these 155 forest personnel, 108 policemen and six revenue officials dragged men and women out of their places, herded them under a tree and brutally assaulted over 100 of them.

Several women were bundled into a truck and taken to nearby forest department buildings and 18 of them were raped, the prosecution said.