Eight persons accused of killing four members of a Dalit family have been held guilty in the Khairlanji murder case by a sessions court in Bhandara, Maharashtra.
Ad hoc sessions and district court judge S S Cass on Monday held Gopal Binjewar, Sakru Binjewar, Shatrughan Dhande, Vishwanath Dhande, Ramu Dhande, Jagdish Mandlekar, Prabhakar Mandlekar and Shishpal Dhande guilty under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Three other accused -- Mahipal Dhande, Dharampal Dhande and Purushottam Titarmare -- were acquitted.
The court found no evidence against these three accused under the prevention of atrocities on Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Act 1989.
However, the court deferred the pronouncement of the quantum of the sentence on Monday, but has agreed to resume hearing in the case from September 20.
Four persons of a Dalit family -- Surekha Bhaiyalal Bhotmange, her daughter Priyanka and sons - Sudhir and Roshan were killed on September 29, 2006, over a land dispute by the accused in Khairlanji village.
Surekha's husband and the only surviving member of the family, Bhaiyalal, had managed to flee the spot. The four were mercilessly beaten to death and their bodies were thrown into a canal in the village, prosecution had alleged.
The killings had evoked violent reactions across the state and drew flak from all quarters including the state assembly and Parliament.
Bowing to mounting pressure, the state authorities had handed over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation and its Chennai unit was entrusted with the task.
The accused were arrested on October 1, 2006, under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Atrocities on Scheduled Castes and Tribes Act (1989) and were lodged in district jail, Bhandara.
Noted lawyer Ujwal Nikam was the special public prosecutor, Neerak Khandewale and S Jaiswal were the defence lawyers and Ezaj Khan was the counsel for CBI in the case.