Aurangabad HC acquits all 7 accused in dalit youth lynching case of 2009

By Staff reporter,

Aurangabad (Maharashtra): The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court has acquitted seven accused from the charges of stoning to death a dalit youth in 2009.

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The divisional bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice P R Bora on Wednesday acquitted three women of all charges, while the four male accused have been convicted under section 341 of IPC ((punishment for wrongful restraint).

The acquitted persons are Dnyaneshwar Tejrao Jadhav, Santosh Ambadas Jadhav, Chhotu Suryabhan Jadhav, Sachin Chandrakant Jadhav – all aged between 20 and 25; and three women, namely Vijubai Jadhav (36), Rukmanbai Jadhav (75) and Kusumbai Jadhav (65).

In its operative order given on Wednesday the divisional bench observed that the the “order of conviction” passed by the Additional Sessions Judge on November 29, 2011 is “quashed and set aside.” Those seen accused were given punishment under Section 302 r/w 34 of IPC.

The Additional district and sessions judge R R Kadam on November 29, 2011 had sentenced 7 accused to life imprisonment while acquitted 63 others due to lack of evidence.

The detailed order with reasoning was not typed at the point of filing this story.

Rohidas Pandit Tupe (21), a dalit youth was allegedly tied to an electric pole and stoned to death for attacking a girl from Maratha community on February 23, 2009 at a village square in Phulamri taluka of Aurangabad.

Police, in their charge sheet, claimed that angry villagers tortured Tupe by rubbing salt and chilli powder into his wounds while thrashing him severely.

The police also claimed that village police Patil Chhagan Reswal saw the four men thrashing Tupe in the afternoon on February 23, 2009; and were accusing him of harassing the 18-year-old woman of their community for the last two years.

Reswal was stopped and not allowed to intervene; the men dragged Tupe to Shivaji Chowk, accusing him of being armed with a knife and for threatening and chasing the girl. Reswal called up the police. Four or five policemen rushed to the spot, where over 100 people had gathered.

However, the accused threatened the police and asked them to stay away.

By the time more policemen led by senior officers came to the spot, Tupe had been tied to an electric pole and beaten up, the prosecution said.

Tupe’s killing had sparked a furore among Dalit organizations that staged demonstrations demanding the entire village be booked under the Atrocities Act as well as for murder.

The Phulamri police had then arrested 70 people from Pal village, including three minors. Two of the suspects died while investigations were in progress. Later, the investigation into the case was handed over to criminal investigation department (CID) following a high court order.

The prosecution had examined 43 witnesses, out of which 19, including the main complainant and the village police Patil Reswal and his wife, and three close relatives of the victim had turned hostile.