History of Ahmednagar
Ahmednagar district is in Maharashtra, about 120 km northeast of Pune and 120 km from Aurangabad. Ahmednagar gets its name from Ahmed Nizam Shah, who founded the town in 1494 on the site of a more ancient city, Bhingar. The district was created after the defeat of the Maratha Confederacy in the Third Anglo-Maratha War in 1818 when most of the Peshwa’s domains were annexed to British India. The district remained part of the Central division of Bombay Presidency until India’s independence in 1947, when it became part of Bombay State, and in 1960 the new state of Maharashtra.
Ahmednagar is a relatively small town and lacks the development witnessed in nearby cities of western Maharashtra such as Mumbai, Pune and Aurangabad. Ahmednagar is home to 19 sugar factories and is also the birthplace of the cooperative movement. Due to scarce rainfall, Ahmednagar often suffers from drought. Marathi is the primary language for daily-life communication.
The total population of the District as per the 2011 census is 45,43,080. The Scheduled Caste Population as per the 2001 Census Data is 4,85,000 which is 12% of the total population, and as per 2011 census it has increased by 1%.
Atrocity Cases in Ahmednagar district
There has been a steep rise in the number of atrocity cases in Maharashtra. The brutal massacres in Khairlanji in 2006 and in Sonai village of Ahmednagar district in January 2013, where three Dalit boys were hacked to death by members of dominant castes, are indicators of the increased intensity. In the triple murder of Dalit youths in Sonai, one of them was supposed to have had a love affair with a Maratha girl. Then recently, in Kharda on 28th April 2014, again in Ahmednagar district, a Dalit boy named Nitin Aage (17) was killed by members of dominant castes, just on the suspicion of a love affair. The dominant caste people pulled him out from his school in broad daylight, beat him up brutally and then lynched him.
There are other recent cases like that of Manoj Kasab, a Sarpanch from the Matang community (the third largest in population among the Scheduled Castes in the state), who was killed by members of the dominant castes. Apart from these killings, many Dalits also face incidents of ostracization to the detriment of their livelihoods, physical assaults and humiliation on an almost daily basis from the dominant castes.
Javkhede Khalsa, Pathardi block
Block Pathardi is located about 52 km from Ahmednagar on the National Highway 222. From Pathardi, Javkhede (Khalsa) is about 12 km, near Tissgao. When we reached Javkhede village, we found it to be in a remote rural area. The total number of households in the village is only 50 to 70, within which Dalit households are 10 to 15.
It was the third day after the incident when we visited the place. We reached the house of Sanjay’s brother which is located outside the village. At one corner, Sanjay’s parents and the other relatives of Jayashree and Sunil were debating with the Deputy Superintendent of Police and refusing to accept the dead bodies. The argument was about how they gave names of six persons and the state police machinery did not arrest anyone – then why should they accept the bodies?
We called the collector and SP to the village to ask what will be the course of further investigation. A police force of around 150, among whom 50 are from Special State Reserve Police, 20 to 25 policewomen, was giving protection to the villagers and the family of those accused.
Villagers and other relatives told us that the incident occurred late in the night after the announcement of the dates of the Maharashtra Vidhansabha assembly election, that is 20th October 2014. The next morning, the relatives found that the Jadhavs’ house was empty and there was blood on the ground just outside. It took two days for the police to find all three bodies, which according to the police report, had been chopped into pieces with an electric saw meant for cutting trees and dumped in a nearby well and bore-well. The farmer Sanjay Jadhav (42), his wife Jayashree Jadhav (38) and their 21-year-old son, their only child, Sunil Jadhav were found murdered outside their home.
While the bodies of Sanjay and Jayashree had been cut into two or three pieces, the highest degree of brutality had been shown towards young Sunil. “His body had been chopped into at least 40 pieces, his head had been split in two and the killers tried to stuff all the parts down the bore-well. It is the assumption of the police and the villagers that ‘the killers first cut Sunil the young boy into the pieces in front of the parents then cut Sanjay and then Jayashree”, according to the police.
The spot is about 2.5 kms from the main village. This is where Sanjay, availing the benefit of the Indira Avas Yojana, was able to build a house on his own farm of 1.5 acres. It looked like the house of a farmer. An old constructed house with mud, bricks and patra. Both the inside and outside of the roof was plastered with gobar. At a distance of about 10 ft, there were blood spots on the floor which was covered by the waste of the bajra crops. This is where the brutal killings had happened. From there, the well – where the dead body of Sanjay and Jayashree was found – is about 1.5 km away. The bore-well is around 200 ft away from this well and as per police information, the sniffer dog did not find the dead bodies’ pieces, but it was the SP, Mr. Lakhmi Goutam, who found the pieces of the body, based on the available evidence and his own instincts.
After observation and interaction with the family members and the villagers, it was clear that the whole act was planned and it was cold-blooded murder. Sunil had come from Goregaon, Mumbai, to the village just two days before the incident, to help his family with crop-cutting. When I observed Sanjay’s house, Sunil’s mat inside the house was in a clean state. Which shows that the killers had probably called him out, tied his parents and then brutally chopped him into pieces.
The killers were surely familiar with the Sonai massacres and Kharda killings where the murderers had left clues, and hence in this brutal triple murder case they made sure that they did not leave behind any clue. They deliberately threw Sanjay and Jayashree’s bodies’ pieces into the well so that the police could not identify them easily. The whole incident may have lasted for four to five hours. Few clues, no eyewitness and no other related evidence – all this openly shows that the triple murder is a clear case of Atrocity. Also, since Sunil Jadhav had been a student at Mumbai’s Dairy Science Institute, the murderers must have waited for him to visit home for Diwali. In another suspicious sign, the Jadhavs’ dogs were found dead on their farm two days before the family was killed.
Suresh Jadhav, Sunil’s uncle, has also claimed in the report that political pressure was being exerted on the police by “certain powerful political leaders”. Even though the surviving members of the Jadhav family – Sunil’s grandparents and three uncles – have named the Wagh family as primary suspects, no one from the Maratha family has yet been detained for questioning. “The Wagh family is related to the local Shiv Sena leader Anil Karale as well as the current BJP legislator Monica Rajale, so political pressure is very clear,” alleges Subodh More, another fact-finding team member.
Doubtful Investigation by Police
The following points need to be highlighted regarding the investigation by the police:
1. Though this was a clear case of Atrocity, the Police did not file the case under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocity Act.
2. There is no explanation for the delay in registering the FIR.
3. The police have not included the motive of the crime in the FIR.
4. Despite the clearly planned nature of the crime, the police did not include it in the FIR.
5. Sunil was 20 years old and the Wagh family suspected him to have a love affair with a 38 year old lady and the police did not call her for investigation.
6. Suresh Jadhav gave the name of six suspected persons but the police did not arrest them.
7. They did not succeed in finding the instrument used during the murder. And this may later benefit the accused.
8. The police did not provide security to the members of the Jadhav family.
9. The police did not record testimonies from the families of the deceased. They did not think it was necessary.
10. There is nothing accidental about the lacunae in the investigation. The inadequacy has a purpose.
11. Local politicians from BJP and Shiv Sena are putting pressure on the police in this matter.
Bails and Anticipatory Bails encourage more such crimes
The final judgment has been passed on Khairlanji and it is shameful that the culprits who raped and brutally murdered a Dalit woman and her family were not held guilty under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. All the persons from the Sonai triple murder case were released on bail and in Kharda; the one main accused is a minor and so he was released on bail and his accomplice also got anticipatory bail. This is one big reason that those who discriminate on the basis of caste and commit heinous crimes are not deterred as a result of these bails. They think that though they commit these crimes, yet they can easily get bail.
No Preventive Action
Despite the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and Rules in 1995, the State has failed to take any preventive action against the many atrocities against Dalits in the state. In this globalized world, caste in India has become stronger. The closed door systems for marriage are a strong, money making business for this society. India is a democratic country yet it does not allow the poor to avail of its fruits of development. And most people who believe in Hinduism love to live like in ancient times where they get benefit from doing no work themselves and exploiting the labour of the others.
The law is only on paper and no implementing authority or state actually wants to annihilate caste.
The Jadhav case is the third major case of caste-based killings in Ahmednagar district over the past two years. While the Sonai triple murder took place in February, 2013, a 17-year-old Dalit boy was killed in the district’s Kharda village last April (2014). In fact, just a day after the Jadhav killings, a spate of attacks on Dalits and tribals took place in and around Ahmednagar. On October 21, two members of the Pardhi nomadic tribe were beaten to death in the district’s Parner village; four members of the Matang community were severely injured after being pelted with stones in Ahmednagar’s Patoda taluka; a Dalit youth was found murdered in Parli in the neighbouring Beed district and three others were injured after being beaten up in Beed city.
The total number of cases registered under the Atrocity Act in Ahmednagar is as follows: In 2012: 44 cases, 2013: 111 cases and till October 2014: 79 cases. This shows that the state ought to have taken steps to declare Ahmednagar as an Atrocity-prone district.
Later developments in the police investigation and the case
On 5th December 2014, the news media alleged that Prashant Jadhav, the nephew of Sanjay Jadhav was the main accused and he was arrested by the police. He was remanded in police custody for 10 days. Within 43 days of the investigation, the police conducted a Narco test on all the suspected culprits. Through its investigation machinery the police conducted two Narco tests on Prashant and came to the conclusion that he was one of the culprits. The police claims that he admitted the fact and gave information about the incident through which police seized the clothes and deadly weapons called Koita from his house. Also the police argued that when he was arrested some people tried to run away from the place but the police caught them and arrested them as suspects.
Information about the Family Members
Sanjay Jadhav’s family includes his old father and mother, three brothers, one of whom had died earlier. Dilip and Sanjay were residing in the Javkhede Khalsa village, Ramesh lives and works in Mumbai. Dilip and Sanjay were working on their own farm with their family members. Sanjay had one son named Sunil; another son, Sanjay, had died earlier because of some disease. A few years ago, Sanjay along with his family moved to his own farm and started residing separately there. Prashant is Dilip’s son and has been residing with him in the same village with other family members in a Dalit Basti. Prashant is married and has a small son.
Information Collected from the Family Members
Prashant was arrested late night on the 4th of December. After his arrest, his wife argued that the police deliberately changed their investigation route and arrested him. She has strong proof that her husband was with her on the night of the incident. He is not the culprit and does not have any relation with the offence, it was the police who falsely involved him in the offence. She further argued that when the police took him for the Narco test to Gujarat – if they had strong evidence against him, then why did they not arrest him at the same time? Why did they wait for 7 to 8 days?
During the investigation why did the police put the burden on the family members by telling them that “we want to finish the investigation early so tell us the name or take the offence in your name”? Wherever the family members went to them, the police singled them out and put pressure on them. Sanjay and Dilip’s mother told us, ” I know my sons, I gave birth to them. They have quarrels among themselves, but they would never dare to cut up a human being as my son’s family members’ bodies were”.
After meeting with them, we saw how the whole family is disturbed. Prashant and other family members got the Magisterial custody but were not allowed bail. The investigation as per the police record is complete. The brutal killing happened due to a piece of land and due to the suspicion of an illicit relationship among the family members as per the police investigation. Maybe only the whole trial will bring out the real cause of the brutal killing.
But there are some questions that remain on the fact finding team’s minds:
1. How much land did they have and how much income they got from the land because of which the culprits committed this type of brutal killing?
2. If Sanjay had an illicit relationship then what was the offence of Sunil and his mother Jayashree?
3. If Sunil had an illicit relationship then what was the offence of his father and mother?
4. If both Sunil and Sanjay had illicit relationships with family members then what was Jayashree’s offence?
5. If the Wagh family was not involved in it then why did they leave the village? Why did they not inform about the same incident to the police? Why did they give an application for not taking the Narco test regarding the same offence?
6. Why did the leaders from the Maratha community of that Tehsil and district keep mum for months and try to hide the Wagh family from the police?
7. On 6th December, lakhs of Dalits came to Mumbai for Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s anniversary and the atrocity in the Ahmednagar was the main issue of discussion and for building an action plan on it at the same time. On the 5th, the Police and other machinery flashed the news that the family members were behind the brutal killing in Javkhede. It is the strategy of the new government to stop the mobilisation of Dalits on Javkhede Khalsa and other atrocity incidents.
8. This issue got on to international platforms and the International Human Right Commission questioned the Indian government on it. So it will be their strategy to stop giving international platforms to these atrocity cases, and paint these cases as false.
9. It was not possible to cut a human body into pieces through the weapon that was seized by the police.
10. There were no other culprits arrested for the offence other than the family members. Whereas police admitted that it was not possible for one person to do the act.
11. Why were all family members killed at the same time and same place and after waiting for Sunil to come to the place?
12. If the family members wanted to commit murder, then there were so many other ways to do it – why did they cut them into pieces?
Police finished their investigation with the conclusion that this is an internal family battle and suspicion of the illicit relationship is the cause of the brutal killing. But many questions remain and the arrest of Prashant is very doubtful. But the incident was really a brutal and cold-blooded one. Whoever did it, is inhuman. If any family member was really involved then he/she must be given exemplary punishment so that this type of offence will not be committed by any other person.
The fact finding team includes
1. Adv. Sujit Nikalje – B.A. LL.B. M.S.W. At- Phaltan Dist.- Satara (Practiced at District and Session Court Satara) Lawyers for Change Fellow, Maharashtra Batch – 2014
2. Vaibhav Gite – President- NDMJ Western Maharashtra
3. Harish Kakade – President – NDMJ District Satara
4. Vishal Salave – President –NDMJ Malshiras Tehshil
5. Adv. Sushil Sawant – B.Com, LL.B. – Malshiras (Practiced at Malshiras Session and Divisional Court
Some photographs related to the incident and the agitations all over Maharashtra:
Sunil’s picture from his facebook account
Sanjay Jadhav’s house, 2.5 Km. from the village in his own farm
The well where the murderer threw the bodies of Sanjay and Jayashree
The bore-well where the pieces of Sunil’s body were hidden
Sanjay’s father and Sunil’s grandfather
The Commissioner and SP of the Ahmednagar District came to the funeral and assured to arrest the accused with strong evidence against them
After the incident, most of the civilian and the party workers in Maharashtra visited Javkhede and expressed sympathy to the family members of Sanjay Jadhav. Some photos of these agitations and the demands through the agitations:
The Strike at Javkhede Khalsa
One day Dharna Andolan in Phaltan
Rasta Roko in Ahmednagar district
The Nishedh of Government by various protesters
News about the incident was published only in a newspaper run by Dalit editors
News of Agitation done at various places and the police non-cooperation
Demands by various organizations
Satara District agitation covered in online newspaper