CID to probe Dalit youths' killings in Maharashtra

Mumbai, Feb 5 (IANS) The Maharashtra government Tuesday ordered the state CID to probe the brutal killings of three Dalit youths last month in Ahmednagar district, an official said here.

State Home Minister R.R. Patil told a delegation of Dalit leaders of the Mehtar-Valmiki community, to which the three youths belonged, that he has asked the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to probe the case.

"The government has taken a very serious view of the incident. We shall take the most stringent action against the perpetrators of the heinous crime," Patil assured the delegation.

The development comes almost a week after Dalit and social activists demanded a probe by the National Human Rights Commission during its tour of the state.

According to lawyer-activist Priyadarshi Telang of Pune-based NGO Manuski, the three victims belonging to the Mehtar community were lured to an isolated spot in a village in Ahmednagar district and murdered. Their bodies were dismembered.

"They were working as scavengers in a school run by Trimurti Education Society. On Jan 1, they were called to clean a septic tank in Nevasa village in the district. Later, their body parts were found in the septic tank and in the fields nearby, in what is suspected to be an attack by upper caste villagers," Telang told IANS.

"We visited the village for probing the matter Jan 21. Police are under pressure. They have nabbed five people for the triple murder. However, the brutality of the killings indicate that more than five people were involved," Telang said.

The victims were Sandeep Thanwal, Rahul Kandare and Sachin Gharu.

The autopsy reports revealed they were probably strangulated to death and their limbs chopped off.

Following an uproar by activists, police arrested five suspects on grounds that one of the victims was allegedly involved in an affair with an upper-caste girl.

"However, the exact motives behind the killings, the people involved and other aspects are still not known. We have demanded that the NHRC take up the matter," Telang said.

The activists have also demanded trial in a fast-track court, full protection to the victims' families and other witnesses in the case, and adequate compensation to the victims' kin.

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