M A I N   N E W S

Mirchpur accused let off lightly
Delhi court acquits 82, convicts 15, Dalits to appeal against order
Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Hisar, Sept 24
The killing of a 70-year-old Dalit and his physically handicapped daughter in April last year will attract a maximum punishment of 10 years of imprisonment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Only three of the 97 accused were found guilty under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code by a Delhi court, which acquitted 82 of the 97 accused. Out of the 15 convicted, the remaining 12 will get off with even lighter sentences on September 29, the date fixed for sentencing.

The charges were framed in March this year and the court began recording evidence in June, making it one of the fastest trials in the country involving so many accused.

The judicial decision by the Additional Sessions Judge, Kamini Lau, has not gone down well with the Dalits, who appeared shocked at the verdict. They also let it be known that they would appeal against the order.

The mob violence in Mirchpur village of Hisar district in Haryana had polarised politics and divided the people. For several months the Dalit victims, whose houses were torched by the mob, camped in the open or in tents provided by the district administration.

Apprehension expressed by them of a miscarriage of justice had prompted the Supreme Court of India to shift the trial out of the state.

For setting ablaze Tara Chand's house, which resulted in burning alive of the father-daughter duo on April 21, 2010, after a dispute between Jat and Dalit community of the village, the court convicted Kulwinder, Ramphal and Rajender on charges of committing unintetional killing under Section 304 of the IPC.

"Tara Chand in his dying declaration to the judicial magistrate does not say that petrol or oil was sprinkled on him, which corroborates the medical evidence and FSL report which shows absence of kerosene, petrol or diesel.

"Therefore, the oral testimonies of Pradeep, Kamal and Amar Lal (prosecution witnesses) to the extent that oil or petrol was sprinkled on them is liable to be rejected, more so as it does not find support from the circumstantial, medical and forensic evidence present on record," the judge said.

Arguing for the accused persons, advocates Arun Rathee and B.S. Rana had defended them contending that most of the 64 prosecution witnesses were planted and interested witnesses and their statements were not corroborated. Even Kamala, wife of Tarachand who was one of those killed, had vision only in one eye and as such she could not have seen the assailants properly, the advocates had argued.

The trial court had also examined 28 witnesses who deposed in support of the accused.

After the attack in which houses of the Dalits were set ablaze, about 150 victims had fled to Delhi and taken shelter at the Balmiki temple near Connaught Place in the heart of the city.

While shifting the trial to Delhi, the SC Bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly had remarked that it was passing the order after a “careful perusal” of the report summoned from the Additional Sessions Judge, Hisar, who was conducting the trial.

The report had talked about the advocates appearing for the victims feeling “scared and terrorised” in view of the presence of a large number of relatives and supporters of the accused persons present outside the Hisar trial court.

The case

The case concerns burning alive of a 70-year-old Dalit and his physically- challenged daughter at Mirchpur village in Haryana last year. The accused resorted to rioting and attacked the houses of persons of Valmiki community on April 21 as a pet dog of a Dalit had barked at a group of Jats two days ago when they were passing through the colony, the chargesheet said. The accused got enraged when a Dalit boy objected to hurling of stones by Jat youths on the dog, it said, adding that later it led to the killings of Tara Chand and his physically challenged teenaged daughter. 

Of the 15 persons convicted, three of them will be sentenced under Section 304 relating to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The maximum sentence under this section is 10 years of imprisonment.

Remaining 12 convicts will be sentenced for stone-throwing and rioting.

Chronology 2010

Apr 21: A 70-year-old man and his 18-year-old physically-challenged daughter burnt alive allegedly by a mob of 100 people of Jat community at Mirchpur village of Hisar district.

Aug: Haryana police arrests the accused after SC pulls it up.

Nov 23: SC says it may transfer the case from Haryana to Chandigarh as victims and witnesses were harassed.

Dec 9: SC transfers the case to Delhi on the plea of families of victims.

Dec 23: Additional Sessions Judge starts hearing.


Jan 9: Court orders transfer of the accused to Tihar from a Hisar jail.

Jan 15: Jats protest transfer of case, seeks fresh probe.

Jan 20: CBI asked to take over probe.

Feb 1: Court orders deployment of CRPF at Mirchpur village to protect prosecution witnesses.

Feb 10: Court asks chief secretaries of Delhi and Haryana to ensure transportation and stay of witnesses.

Mar 11: Court frames charges against 97 for murder, rioting and other offences.

Apr 25: SC orders magisterial probe into case.

June 23: Recording of evidence begins with the testimony of the son of deceased.

Sep 17: Court defers pronouncement of verdict to September 24. — PTI





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