Observing that enmity is a double-edged sword, the Bombay High Court, on Thursday, acquitted four men and upheld conviction of 13 under the charges of murder and attempt to murder. The men belong to the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) and were convicted for boycotting and attacking members of their village, who joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in 2012.
A bench of Justices Sadhana Jadhav and Nizamoodin Jamadar was seized with the criminal appeals filed by Prakash Khandekar and 16 other members of his family - all of them members of the PWP.
As per the prosecution case, these accused and the victims were residents of Roha village in the neighbouring Raigad district.
The Khandekars were unhappy with 17 families from their village leaving the PWP and joining the NCP. The PWP members, accordingly, had decided to socially boycott the newly joined NCP members. The ones from the NCP faction were disallowed from using community halls and even utensils. They were even denied darshan of their village temple and the goddess.
As per prosecution, the incident took place during the annual procession of the village's goddess. Prakash is alleged to have been urging all his members to catch hold of those from the NCP faction and kill them.
Accordingly, a riot-like situation was created, wherein the Kahndekars had suddenly opened an attack against the NCP faction, leaving two of them dead and half a dozen of them injured.
The trial court had convicted all the 17 assailants under the charges of murder and attempted murder. However, the bench, led by Justice Jadhav, after scrutinising the material on record, acquitted four of these 17 men for want of clinching evidence to show their roles in the assault.
The judges, however, upheld the conviction of the 13 other accused in the case and ordered Rs 25,000 as a compensation to the deceased family and Rs 15,000 to those who were injured in the incident.