BeyondHeadlines News Desk
On 12 February 2013, 30-year-old Dalit human rights defender Mr. Chandra Kant Gaikwad was shot and killed, reportedly by an individual whom the human rights defender had filed a complaint against regarding caste-based violations. Chandra Kant Gaikwad actively supported victims of caste-based discrimination in accessing justice by registering and following up on cases against alleged perpetrators with local authorities. Chandra Kant Gaikwad was also a volunteer at the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NCDHR), where he monitored and documented caste-based violations.
At approximately 10am on 12 February 2013, as Chandra Kant Gaikwad was visiting fellow human rights defender Mr Dada Shivaji Jadhav in Indapur block of Pune district, Maharashtra, a number of individuals arrived in a jeep and attempted to shoot both human rights defenders. While Dada Shivaji Jadhav managed to escape, Chandra Kant Gaikwad was fatally shot.
The alleged perpetrator of the killing is Mr Satpal Rupnavar of the Dhangar community, whom Chandra Kant Gaikwad, Dada Shivaji Jadhav and a third human rights defender, Mr Vaibhav Gite, had filed a case against in May 2011, accusing him of committing crimes against Dalits in Indapur block, Pune district in 2011. Chandra Kant Gaikwad was also one of the witnesses for two other cases of caste-based crimes, which were filed against Satpal Rupnavar in 2012. All these cases were registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Satpal Rupnavar was arrested based on the above complaints in January 2012. Six months ago however, the accused applied for bail and was released from custody. Once released, Satpal Rupnavar reportedly planned with other individuals from his community to kill Chandra Kant Gaikwad, Vaibhav Gite and Dada Shivaji Jadhav, who filed the case against him in May 2011.
Prior to Chandra Kant Gaikwad’s killing, a complaint had been issued to Mr Dasharath Patil, Assistant Police Inspector of P.S. Walchand Nagar, regarding continuous threats against Chandra Kant Gaikwad, Vaibhav Gite and Dada Shivaji Jadhav by Satpal Rupnavar. However, the complaint was not investigated and no protection measures were provided to the three human rights defenders. Similar complaints were also made to the Superintendent of Police, the National Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Interior, reportedly without any response received.
Front Line Defenders condemns the killing of human rights defender Chandra Kant Gaikwad, which it believes to be directly related to his legitimate and peaceful work in denouncing caste-based crimes in India. Front Line Defenders also expresses grave concern for the security and physical and psychological integrity of Vaibhav Gite and Dada Shivaji Jadhav.