30 years later, 6 get life for UP Dalit killings

30 years later, 6 get life for UP Dalit killings

Reversing the acquittal of the six accused, the apex court said “unfortunately, the centuries-old Indian caste system still takes its toll from time to time. This case unfolds the worst kind of atrocities committed by the so-called upper caste (Kshatriya or Thakur) against the so-called lower caste caste in a civilised country,” a bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A K Patnaik said in a judgement.

The apex court said minor discrepancies in statements of witnesses should be ignored by courts in such carnages as they are bound to be under tremendous fear.

“The accused belonging to the Thakur caste butchered seven totally innocent persons belonging to the Harijan caste and to wipe out evidence of their atrocities, threw the severed bodies in the strong currents of the Ganges,” the apex court said adding the massacre was carried out to teach a lesson to the so-called lower caste and also commit dacoity in the village.

It was at the intervention of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Dalit leader Jagjivan Ram that the police had arrested 18 people in connection with the massacre on September 9, 1979, at Lohari  village, under Hussainganj police station in Uttar Pradesh. Out of seven, the bodies of five persons could never be recovered.

The sessions court convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 18 of the accused persons on 1982, against which the accused had appealed in the high court. The case went on for 19 years in the high court and on January 10, 2001, the high court acquitted all the accused of the charges ignoring even the evidence of one of injured witness Kallu whose wife Jasoiya was also killed in the carnage. Aggrieved, the UP government appealed in the apex court.

The apex court, which re-appreciated the entire evidence in the case, said the high court had taken an erroneous view and wrongly ignored the evidence of Kallu due to certain minor discrepancies in his testimonies like not properly naming the accused.