Sole survivor of Khairlanji Dalit family massacre Bhotmange dead

Nagpur (Maharashtra), Jan 20 (IANS) Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, the sole survivor in the Dalit family carnage at Khairlanji village in Bhandara district of the state, died following a massive heart attack here on Friday.

Bhotmange was on duty at the Babasaheb Ambedkar Hostel in Bhandara in the afternoon when he complained of chest pain and was rushed to the nearby government hospital for treatment.

As his condition failed to improve, he was later shifted to Nagpur’s Shrikrishna Hospital.

The Khairlanji massacre, as the shocking incident became known globally, involved the brutal killing of four members of the Bhotmange family, the women paraded nude, sexually assaulted in public before being hacked to death.

The killings took place on September 29, 2006, allegedly to avenge a police complaint lodged by one of the family members over a land dispute against some dominant caste locals.

The victims were Bhotmange’s wife Surekha, daughter Priyanka, and sons Sudhir and Roshan. He, however, managed to escape as he had gone out of the village for some work.

The killings enraged Dalits across India with protests in different parts of the country and riots in Nagpur and Chandrapur shortly afterwards.

Later, Bhotmange dedicated his life to bringing the perpetrators of his family’s massacre to justice,

In September 2008, Bhandara Sessions Court found eight persons guilty and acquitted three others, with Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam making a strong appeal for the death sentence to all those found guilty.

The convicts include — Gopal Sakru Binjewar, Sakru Binjewar, Shishupal Dhande, Ramu Dhande, Shatrughan Dhande, Vishwanath Dhande, Prabhakar Mandlekar and Jagdish Mandlekar. Those acquitted were Mahipal Dhande, Dharmpal Dhande and Purushottam Titirmare.

Six of the convicts were awarded the death penalty which was commuted to 25 years life imprisonments for all eight by the Bombay High Court in July 2010, on grounds that it was a vendetta killing and not caste-related, resulting in fresh protests.

An appeal against the high court verdict is pending before the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had announced an ex-gratia of Rs 600,000 plus job and a rehabilitation package for Bhotmange.