Mahapanchayat ‘brokers deal’ in murder case: Pay Rs 2 lakh, go free

A mahapanchayat in Haryana's Jind district has allegedly "settled" a case of murder by brokering a compromise between the families of the victim and the accused, fixing a cash compensation and directing the alleged killers to kneel in remorse at the cremation ground where the victim's last rites were performed.

A relative of the 40-year-old female victim said the mahapanchayat's intervention had "cleared" things up. Police said they knew a mahapanchayat had been convened, but had few details. The case is in a Jind court, and listed for hearing soon.

The victim, Bimla, was shot dead during a gunbattle between two groups on shamlat (village commons) land in Fatehgarh village on October 8 last year. The accused, including a couple of women, are in jail, facing charges of murder, and under the Arms Act. Bimla is survived by her husband Dashrath and their three children.

The mahapanchayat, which met on Sunday evening, allegedly ruled that all witnesses should disown their original statements to police, paving the way for the accused to get bail, and setting the "compromise" formula in motion. Following bail, each accused was to deposit a compensation of Rs 2 lakh with the panchayat, go to the cremation ground and kneel there for 30 minutes in repentance.

Families of the around half a dozen accused and the victim are learnt to have agreed with the mahapanchayat's formula. The mahapanchayat, in which panchayats of around a dozen villages participated, was convened allegedly after the panchayat of Fatehgarh failed to broker a compromise after trying twice.

Jagat Singh, a brother-in-law of Bimla's, told The Indian Express by phone: "The two groups held some grudge against each other, which has been cleared because of the panchayat's intervention. We told the panchayat that we did not want any money from the accused. The money can instead be used for the welfare of children in our village, and a room can be built in the village school. That room can be named after Bimla."

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