Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, the lone survivor and key witness in the 2006 Khairlanji massacre that had shaken the collective conscience, died of cardiac arrest in Nagpur. He was 62.
Bhotmange, a resident of Khairlanji in Bhandara district was admitted to ICU of a Nagpur-based private hospital in afternoon, where he died at around 5 PM.
According to police, heart attack was the prima facie cause of his death.
Confirming by Bhandara Superintendent of Police Vinita Sahoo. “Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange died at around 4.40 PM. His body has been sent for postmortem to ascertain exact cause of death,” Sahoo said.
She said Bhotmange was admitted in general hospital in Bhandara in afternoon after he complained of uneasiness. “He was shifted to a private hospital in Nagpur as his condition deteriorated,” the officer added.
The Khairlanji massacre refers to the murders of Dalits by members of an influential community in the small village in east Maharashtra.
On September 29, 2006, four members of the Bhotmange family, including two women, were hacked to death in Khairlanji, in the fallout of a land dispute.
The deceased included Bhotmange’s wife, his daughter and two sons. The women of the family were sexually abused by the attackers before murder.
The incident had ignited massive protests by Dalit community in the state.
There were allegations that the local police shielded the perpetrators of the crime.
The then Congress-NCP government handed over the probe to the CBI following lapses by the police in investigation.
A court in Bhandara had sentenced six persons to death and two others to life imprisonment on September 2008.
However, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court commuted the capital punishment to a 25-year rigorous imprisonment (RI) and prescribed RI for the similar period to two others.
The court had ruled out caste bias stating that the murders was the act of revenge.
Bhotmange had challenged the HCs verdict in the Supreme Court. The matter has been pending before the apex court since the last hearing held in August 2015.
After the murders, Bhotmange, who tilled a small piece of land, was provided a job in government and also a house in Bhandara city.