New Delhi, Aug 25: The Mirchpur Dalits killings was a deliberate act of targeting Balmiki houses by the Jat community mob and involved a large scale conspiracy "to teach them a lesson", the Delhi High Court has said.
The high court's observations came while overturning the acquittal of 20 persons and awarding life term to 12 out of 33 members of the dominant Jat community.
A bench of justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta said Balmikis houses were set on fire in a pre-planned and carefully orchestrated manner.
"This was not a case of a fire spreading quickly as a result of any accidental fire catching on to the cow dung cakes or other flammable materials which were just lying around. This was an act of deliberate targeting of the Balmiki houses by the Jat community mob and setting them on fire in a pre-planned and carefully orchestrated manner.
"The entire evidence, if read carefully, more than adequately demonstrates that there was a large scale conspiracy hatched by members of the Jat community to teach the Balmikis a lesson and pursuant to that conspiracy, houses of the Balmiki community were set on fire," the bench said.
A 60-year-old Dalit man and his physically challenged daughter were burnt alive by members of the Jat community in Mirchpur village in Haryana's Hisar district in April 2010.
The instances of "atrocities" against Scheduled Castes by those belonging to dominant castes have shown "no sign of abating" even after 71 years of Independence, the bench remarked.
It said the evidence unmistakably showed that victim Tara Chand and his daughter were set on fire and pushed inside the house in that condition fully knowing that they were Balmikis.
The bench said Tara Chand's dying declaration more than adequately establishes the role of several accused, and held that the killing of both the victims was murder and not 'culpable homicide not amounting to murder'.
It noted that the Jats had planned their attack in advance and had come to the Balmiki basti well armed with oil cans, 'rehris' filled with stones, lathis, gandasis, jellies etc and the properties of the Balmikis were burnt and their belongings destroyed.
The trial court had on September 24, 2011, convicted 15 of 97 men belonging to the Jat community. Two convicts died during pendency of appeals. In October 2012, the 98th accused, who was earlier absconding, was tried and acquitted by the trial court.