Preliminary fact finding report on the inhuman murders of Dalits on 20 October 2014 at Jawakhede (Khalsa), Taluka Pathardi, District Ahmednagar.
by Dalit Atyachar Virodhi Kruti Samiti, Mumbai
On 20th October 2014, in Jawakhede (Khalsa), Taluka Pathardi, District Ahmednagar, the entire family comprising the father, mother and a son, of Buddhist faith, was killed brutally.
On 27th October 2014, the Dalit Atyachar Virodhi Kruti Samiti sent a committee to Jawakhede village on a fact-finding mission to probe these murders. The said committee comprised of Subodh More (social activist and freelance journalist), Jatin Desai (senior journalist), Pheroze Mithiborwala (social activist), Uttam Jagirdar (social activist), Sudhakar Kashyap (correspondent of IBN Lokmat), Anjan Veldurkar (activist), Vinod Shinde (activist), Professor Ranganath Pathare (senior literary person from Ahmednagar), Bela Sakhare (Nagpur), Keshav Waghmare (social activist from Pune).
Jawakhede village is at a distance of 62kms from Ahmednagar, with a population of about 3000 people. A majority of the population belongs to Maratha and Vanjari caste; while the Dalit, Muslim and Christians live in minority. About 30 households belong to the Buddhist community.
The road going to the main village is a tar road, but the road leading to the Dalit residences is an unpaved road. The village falls under Pathardi-Shevgaon constituency. Shimati Monika Rajle, a BJP candidate (erstwhile NCP candidate) is the MLA from this constituency.
Prior to the murder, the family of Sanjay Jagannath Jadhav (42), Jayashri Sanjay Jadhav (38) and Sunil Sanjay Jadhav (19), were staying in a tin shed on their farm where they harvested millet.
Sanjay has three brothers; all the four brothers, after the division of the property became equal property owner of more than an acre of land. Sanjay’s son Sunil was studying Dairy Science in Mumbai. He was visiting the village during the vacation period.
While he was on a college holiday, he and his family were brutally murdered on 20th October 2014. Sunil was cut in two pieces, waist down and his penis was battered. His father Sanjay Jagannath Jadhav was also attacked in the same way. His mother Jayashri Sanjay Jadhav was struck on her head and her ear was cut.
A few days before the killing of the family, their watch-dog who watches over the adjacent farm, was killed by anonymous people. The “Wagh” families, which belong to a majority Maratha community live in close proximity as also the Vanjari community.
The said murders, which appear to be pre-planned, took place during the middle of the night. The attackers killed the entire family in the out-house. The murderers tried to hide the “bloody” evidence by putting soil and millet crop at the site of murder. Then the bodies were cut in pieces and wrapped in rugs and gunny sacks and thrown in a well near the Jadhav residence.
Sunil’s legs and head was shoved into the borewell a short distance away. Since the borewell’s mouth was narrow, the murderers cut the head and legs into tiny pieces. As per the information given by the locals, the murderers tried to destroy the evidence of the murders. The remaining part of Sunil’s body were scattered all over the village.
The Police took about two days (21st & 22nd October) to find the entire body. The last rites were performed after all the body pieces were found.
Suresh Jadhav, brother of deceased Sanjay, informed the committee that their family has shared names of a few suspects with the Police. However, he regretted the fact that the Police has not arrested anyone.
Suresh Jadhav mentioned that since the suspect “Wagh” family is related to Shri Anil Karale (Deputy Chief, Nagar District) and Shrimati Monika Rajle, the Police is not taking any action against them. Due to political pressure, the police is not investigating the case properly and the culprits are not being arrested.
The deceased Sanjay Jadhav’s brother, Sunil, and their father Jagannath, also mentioned to the fact finding committee that they have shared the suspects names and evidence with the Police. Once again, instead of booking the murderers, the family members are being harassed by interrogating them. The deceased Sanjay’s father, Jagannath with tremendous disappointment shared with the fact-finding committee that if the Police does not book the criminals, he would have no other option but to immolate himself.
When the committee members met Shrimati Monika Rajle, she informed the committee that there have been no incidences of communal disharmony in the village, She said that the villagers were extending total co-operation with the Police who were investigating the said murders. However, she could not explain the delay in arresting the murderers till now.
The fact finding committee met Addl. Police Superintendent Shrimati Sunita Thakare-Salunkhe and inquired why there were no arrests despite the Jadhav family having shared the names of the suspects. The fact finding committee demanded why no action was taken against the suspects. She informed the committee that due to lack of evidence against the suspects no arrests were made.
Shrimati Sunita Thakare-Salunkhe felt that according to her, the modus operandi of the murders at Sonai, Nagar in the year 2013 and these murders is similar. She suspected these murders were done out of ethnic pride.
The sequence of events, i.e. the killing of the watch-dog just two days prior to the murder of Jadhav family, the murder of the family, throwing the bodies cut into tiny pieces in a borewell, none of the “Wagh” families who stay in the vicinity coming to the rescue of Jadhav family; assumes possibility of the murderers being locals from the village or someone who is very familiar with the area.
The committee members raised the question as to why the Police was not considering these possibilities, in all seriousness.
The Police is suspecting an illegal relationship between Sunil and an adult woman from one of the “Wagh” families. However, the committee feels this direction in the investigation is inconclusive or irrelevant. It has become the norm to presume an illegal relationship angle in all Dalit murders. This has become evident in Sonai, Kharda, Kewalepada- Bhandara and Khairlanje incidents, prior to this. The committee is of the opinion that such a line of investigation only leads to defamation of Dalits and gathers sympathy for the criminals in the minds of the upper caste community.
When the committee visited Jawakhede, the post mortem report and FIR was not made available to them, hence they are unable to find out the medical reason for the death of the deceased Jadhav family members. However, Lokmat (a daily newspaper in Pune) has reported basis the post mortem report that all of them were first strangulated before the murder.
The committee was informed that after four days of the murders, the police charged unknown people under The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of), 1989 (Atrocities Act). However, in the opinion of the said committee, the Atrocities Act is applicable only for Hindus, therefore, any charges against an unknown person may not be valid as an unknown person doesn’t have a identity, religion, caste or gender. The committee is questioning the inaction by the Police to take any steps against the suspected upper caste people, and suspects that the police are acting under political pressure.
On 21st October, one day after the murders on 20th October, four people belonging to the Pardhi community were publically stoned by the villagers in presence of the Police. This act was committed outside the premises of Alakoti Gram-Panchayat office in Parner District; and the trigger was: “allegation of theft”. In this incident, Rahul Punjya Chavan and Pikesh Punjya Chavan died and two other victims were grievously injured and have been hospitalised.
In the last few years, there has been marked increase in atrocities against the Dalit Adivasi Nomadic tribes in Ahmednagar District.
In the year 2013, there were 111 cases registered in this district and in this year, so far, till October about 74 cases have been registered. This includes the murder of three young sweeper community people in Sonai by cutting their bodies into pieces, Nitin Aage’s murder after torturing him. Thereafter, on 22nd June 2014, Aaba Kale a deaf and mute, tiller from Kashti village which falls under Dist. Shrigonda, was tortured by the relatives of Shri. Babanrao Pachpute on account of his alleged intercast love affair. The village falls under constituency of Shri. Babanrao Pachpute.
Much before these incidents, many similar vincidents have transpired. These include, the incident of setting fire to Baban Misal and Janabai Borge from the Matang community; the brutal bashing of Dipak Kamble in Karjat District; the rape and murder of Suman Kale from a Nomadic community; the murder of Walekar, a Dalit youth from Paithan village in Shevgaon District; to name a few.
In none of these incidents any of the criminals have been stringently punished. In fact with the support of Police & Politicians, these casteist criminals are getting stronger. This has resulted in more and more atrocities being inflicted upon Dalits.
Certain castes and dynasties from Ahmednagar are responsible for the increasing incidents of atrocities; their flourishing economic affluence, their political dominance and the resulting arrogance plus the attitude that “nobody can touch me” is the root cause behind these incidents. Along with the economic growth, there should have been a complementary cultural change, however, there is a lack of empathy for the downtrodden in the society, or such empathy does not reflect in our society.
The progressive movements that seek social reforms have been weakened, the forces opposing the atrocities against Dalits are not vociferous. All this is resulting in increasing attacks on the community. Be it political leaders from the district or social activists like Anna Hazare, none of them are speaking out against these incidents. As a result, these casteist forces are getting stronger and more powerful. This is what the members of the fact-finding committee opine.
The Police, so far, has not taken any action vis a vis the attacks on Dalits in the districts of Beed-Parali, Padoda, Jalna, Hingoli which are adjacent to Ahmednagar district. In these circumstances, there is no hope of justice or redressal so also there is guarantee to the safety of life and limb and property.
Through this fact finding report, we make the following demands and suggestions to the new government. We demand immediate implementation of these demands/ suggestions.
Demands and suggestions:
- Immediate arrests of criminals involved in the Jawakhede murders
- Stringent punishments for the criminals involved in murder of two Pardhi community members and causing injuries to the other members of the community
- Immediate arrest of criminals involved in the Kashti-Shrigonda atrocities incident
- Protection to the witnesses and the affected Dalit victims
- Rehabilitation of victim Dalit families
- Declaration of Ahmednagar as “Atrocities Prone” district and police protection to all Dalit residential areas
- Suspension of officers responsible for neglecting their duties to take action under Atrocities Act
- Speedy trial of all communal crime court cases in Ahmednagar by a special Fast Track Court
- Strict action be taken against the police and administrative officers holding them responsible for the atrocities in their village/ district