Women’s rights activists slammed an Indian court’s decision Wednesday to sentence three low-caste men to death for raping and killing an upper-caste teenage girl in Maharashtra state last year, saying the justice system was stacked against the marginalized Dalit community.
Indian courts tend to punish Dalits who have committed crimes but are more lenient toward members of other communities who have committed crimes against Dalits, who form the lowest rung of Hinduism’s caste hierarchy, activists alleged.
The special fast-track court in Ahmednagar district on Nov. 18 had found defendants Jitendra Shinde, 25, Nitin Bhailume, 26 and Santosh Bhawal, 35 – all Dalits – guilty of rape, murder and criminal conspiracy charges in the July 2016 crime, which provoked statewide protests.
“All incidents of rape and murder should trigger anger and demands for justice. But in this case, it seems the anger was directed toward the entire Dalit community,” Mumbai-based rights activist Kamayani Mahabal told BenarNews.
The 15-year-old victim in this case, an upper-caste Maratha, was found brutally slain in a field in the district’s remote Kopardi village in July 2016. Her hair had been pulled out, her bones and teeth were shattered and there were bite marks all over her body, the victim’s autopsy report said.
The killing evoked comparisons to an infamous gang-rape in New Delhi five years ago when a medical student was savagely assaulted inside a moving bus.
Full story: BenarNews
Prabhat Sharan and Rohit Wadhwaney
Mumbai and New Delhi
Copyright ©2017, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.