Planning Commission member Bhalchandra Mungekar visits Kherlanji village to file an independent report on the Dalit massacres
Terming the Kherlanji Dalit killings as an incident that goes beyond the realms of the word ‘condemnation’, Planning Commission member Bhalchandra Mungekar on Saturday said time-bound disposal of justice in the case is important for the credibility of UPA government at the Centre and DF government in the state.
“The violent fallout on the streets of Nagpur and elsewhere could have been averted had the people seen the state legitimately act against the culprits,” Mungekar, an economist, told reporters after meeting Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, the Dalit villager whose family was allegedly massacred by upper caste villagers over a land dispute on September 29, this year.
Mungekar, who is responsible for the department of social justice and empowerment in the plan panel, will submit a report of his findings and observations to PM Manmohan Singh, and apprise him of the situation.
He, however, clarified on Saturday that he had visited the village in his personal capacity as plan panel member. The plan panel member, who flew in a day after the CM Vilasrao Deshmukh’s visit to the village, found questionable anomalies in the delay in the government’s action over such a grave incident “that has dented the state’s progressive and secular image.”
“People have sent the message that inaction wouldn’t be tolerated,” Mungekar said, but appealed to the people to shun violence. Maharashtra, he said, is seeing a surge in cases of Dalit atrocities. “This is an outcome of declining Dalit political voice and resistance in the country.”
But the reasons behind such atrocities are mostly economic. “In most cases, upper caste Hindus do not take kindly to the economic prosperity of a few Dalit families.” He said the Bhotmange family was facing oppression from entire village for 17 long years. “And the main reason for it was the land they owned,” he said.
He said he would suggest to the Centre that if there are only one or two Dalit families in a village they must be rehabilitated in other villages where Dalits are in better numbers.
Any punishment to the perpetrators of such brutality would be inadequate, but justice to Bhotmange is a must to restore the government’s credibility.
Meanwhile, peace returned to Nagpur and eastern parts of Vidarbha, after the CM promised the government is not opposed to handing over the probe of the massacre to the CBI.