In a long-overdue verdict, a local court in Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh, has handed a life imprisonment sentence to the only surviving accused, now 90 years old, for the brutal killing of 10 Dalit individuals. The shocking incident occurred 42 years ago when the victims dared to raise their voices against the oppressive actions of a higher-caste ration shop owner. While justice has been served to some extent, it is disheartening to note that the nine other accused individuals passed away during the protracted trial process.
District government counsel (DGC), Rajeev Upadhyay Priyadarshi, confirmed the sentencing and attributed the delay in the case to its transfer to Firozabad in 2021. The verdict, delivered by District Judge Harvir Singh on May 31, 2023, marks a significant milestone in the pursuit of justice for the victims and their families.
Ganga Dayal, was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment
The accused, Ganga Dayal, was found guilty of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and has been sentenced to life imprisonment. Additionally, he was convicted of attempted murder under Section 307 of the IPC, leading to a 10-year jail term. The court also imposed a penalty of ₹50,000 for the murder charge and ₹5,000 for the attempted murder charge.
The heinous crime took place in December 1981 in Sadhupur village, within the jurisdiction of Shikohabad police station. The motive behind the massacre stemmed from a complaint filed by several Dalit villagers against the ration shop owner, who sought revenge with the help of his nine associates. Indiscriminate firing ensued, targeting the victims as they were cooking in their own homes, resulting in the loss of innocent lives.
The tragic incident was brought to the attention of the authorities by a railway official who received information from Muni Chandra, the chief of Sadhupur village. A case was registered at the Mainpuri chief judicial magistrate’s court since Shikohabad was a part of the Mainpuri district at that time. Following the formation of Firozabad district in 1989, Shikohabad became a part of Firozabad, and the trial subsequently continued at the Mainpuri court. However, in 2021, the case was transferred to the Firozabad court, although, by then, the majority of the accused had already passed away.
During the trial, the prosecution argued that the nature of the mass killing classified it as one of the “rarest of rare” cases, warranting capital punishment for Ganga Dayal. In contrast, the defense pleaded for leniency considering the advanced age of the accused.
Ganga Dayal, who had been out on bail throughout the trial, was arrested by the Firozabad police following the court’s ruling and subsequently taken into custody. The court order emphasized that the prosecution successfully established the accused’s presence at the crime scene, with the crime itself being substantiated by eyewitness testimony.
In response to the sentencing, Premwati (80), one of the survivors, expressed disappointment, highlighting that the “main accused in the case died before the conclusion of the trial.” While the verdict brings a measure of closure to the horrific incident, the fact that justice was delayed for over four decades is a painful reminder of the arduous struggle faced by marginalized communities in their pursuit of justic
Justice has finally been served
After a lengthy legal battle spanning over four decades, justice has finally been served in the case of the massacre of 10 Dalit individuals in Firozabad district, Uttar Pradesh. The sole surviving accused, a 90-year-old man, has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a local court in Firozabad. This landmark verdict sheds light on a dark chapter in history when the victims were ruthlessly shot dead for daring to speak out against the owner of a higher-caste ration shop. However, it is disheartening to note that the other nine accused individuals passed away during the course of the prolonged trial.
District government counsel (DGC) Rajeev Upadhyay Priyadarshi acknowledged the delayed proceedings but refrained from commenting on the previous delays in the case. He mentioned that the case was transferred to Firozabad in 2021, leading to its subsequent resolution. The district judge, Harvir Singh, pronounced the verdict on May 31, 2023, providing some solace to the victims’ families and signaling a step towards justice.
The 90-year-old accused, Ganga Dayal, was found guilty of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, resulting in a life sentence. Additionally, he was convicted of attempted murder under Section 307 of the IPC, which led to a 10-year prison term. The court imposed a penalty of ₹50,000 for the murder charge and ₹5,000 for the attempted murder charge.
The appalling incident occurred in Sadhupur village, situated within the jurisdiction of Shikohabad police station, in December 1981. The victims were targeted due to a complaint lodged by several Dalit villagers against the ration shop owner. Seeking revenge, the owner, accompanied by his nine associates, launched an indiscriminate attack on the Dalit community members who were preparing food in their own homes. This merciless act resulted in the tragic loss of innocent lives.
The killings came to light when a railway official received information from Muni Chandra, the chief of Sadhupur village, who promptly reported the incident to the Shikohabad police station. The case was initially registered at the Mainpuri chief judicial magistrate’s court, as Shikohabad fell under the jurisdiction of Mainpuri district at that time. Following the formation of Firozabad district in 1989, Shikohabad became part of Firozabad, leading to the trial’s continuation in the Mainpuri court. However, in 2021, the case was transferred to the Firozabad court, by which time the majority of the accused had already passed away.
During the trial, the prosecution argued that the mass killing fell under the category of the “rarest of rare” cases, warranting capital punishment for Ganga Dayal. Conversely, the defense sought a compassionate view, considering the advanced age of the accused.