Surekha Bhotmange, a Dalit (or so-called “untouchable”) member of the Hindu caste system in Maharashtra, was cooking the family evening meal on 29 September 2006 when a group of upper-caste men surrounded her home. Surekha, her 17-year-old daughter Priyanka, and two sons, 23-year-old Roshan and 21-year-old Sudhir, were dragged out of the hut. The two women were stripped, beaten and paraded through the village. The young men were beaten up so badly their faces were disfigured. All four died. Almost all of Khairlanji village witnessed this spectacle of caste vengeance. No one did much to stop it.

The attack was a retribution for previous activism. The upper-caste farmers from the area were using the Bhotmanges’ land as a throughway for their tractors. The family resisted, with the help of a Dalit rights activist. Siddharth Gajbhiye. Gajbhiye himself was beaten up. Surekha Bhotmange was a witness, identifying twelve perpetrators who were then arrested. On the day that the Bhotmange family was attacked, all twelve had been released on bail. They took their ghastly revenge.

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