New Delhi: Thirty years after eight Dalits
were massacred by upper caste Thakurs in Uttar Pradesh, the
Supreme Court has sentenced to life imprisonment five of the
accused and said caste system should be abolished soon for
ensuring rule of law and smooth functioning of democracy.
Reversing the acquittal of the six accused, the apex
court said "unfortunately, the centuries-old Indian caste
system still takes its toll from time to time. This case
unfolds the worst kind of atrocities committed by the so-
called upper caste (Kshatriya or Thakur) against the so-called
lower caste caste in a civilized country.
"It is absolutely imperative to abolish the caste
system as expeditiously as possible for smooth functioning of
rule of law and democracy in our country," a bench of Justices
Dalveer Bhandari and A K Patnaik said in a judgement.
The apex court said minor discrepancies in statements
of witnesses should be ignored by courts in such carnages as
they are bound to be under tremendous fear.
The accused belonging to Thakur caste butchered seven
totally innocent persons belonging to Harijan caste and to
wipe out the evidence of their atrocities, threw their bodies
in the strong currents of the Ganges, the apex court said
adding the massacre was carried out to teach a lesson to
so-called lower caste and commit dacoity at the village.
It was at the intervention of the then Prime Minister
Indira Gandhi and Dalit leader Jagjivan Ram that the police
had arrested 18 people in connection with the massacre on
September 9, 1979, at village Lohari, under Hussainganj police
station in Uttar Pradesh.