Widow of tribal farmer seeks justice for dead husband

AURANGABAD: Widow of a tribal farm hand, Sitabai Pawar has knocked the doors of Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court seeking fresh probe into her husband's death.

Justice Vishnu Sahay and Justice A S Bagga recently admitted Sitabai's petition.

According to Sitabai, her husband Prakash had been working on the farms of Uttam Shelke in Shirdi taluka of Ahmednagar district for about six years and was found dead under mysterious circumstances on August 15, 1996.

According to the petition, Shelke had thrashed Prakash and later lodged a police complaint against him for allegedly damaging a pipeline on the farm. Prakash was subsequently taken into police custody at Kopargaon for three days. Following this incident, Prakash quit the job, but was threatened with dire consequences, the petition added.

Prakash later started working on a farm at Pimpalvandi. He had worked for about a week when he approached Shelke on August 15, 1996, seeking payment of dues. However, he never returned and Sitabai was told that her husband's body had been fished out from a well on Shelke's farm.

Since then Sitabai has been fighting a lone battle, seeking justice. After repeated pleas by Sitabai and the Adiwasi Bhoomihakka Andolan Samiti failed, the Samiti took out a morcha on November 26, 1996. Sitabai also resorted to a hunger strike on June 7, 1999, but in vain.

Meanwhile, a sub-divisional magistrate from Sangamner, who inquired into Pawar's death, has cited drowning as the reason for death in his report. Sitabai, in her petition, denied the SDM's finding, stating her husbad was a good swimmer.

The petitioner has urged for a fresh probe into her husband's death by an agency like the CID. Sitabai has also urged the court to book Uttam Shelke for Prakash's death.

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Referred by: Mukundan CM
Published on: July 27, 2001
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