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The Vachathi case refers to a crime that happened on 20 June 1992 in the Vachathi village of Dharmapuri district, Tamil Nadu. A team comprising 155 forest personnel, 108 policemen and six revenue officials entered the Dalit-dominated Vachathi village, searching for smuggled sandalwood and to know about Veerappan. Under the pretext of conducting a search, the team ransacked the villagers' property, destroyed their houses, killed their cattle, assaulted around 100 villagers, and raped 18 women.
After court order, CBI was probing this case. The case was also under NHRC scanner. On 29 September 2011, a special court in India convicted all 269 accused officials for atrocity on Dalits and 17 for rape. 54 of the accused had died by the time; the remaining 215 were sentenced to jail.
Vachathi is a village located in Dharmapuri district, 400 km (250 mi) away from the state capital Chennai. During June 1992, the villagers, who were mostly tribals and Dalits, the lower section of society, prevented forest and revenue officials from entering the hamlet. The officials complained that the villagers were involved in sandalwood smuggling and aiding Veerappan, a notorious forest brigand. During the evening, 269 officials comprising 155 forest personnel, 108 policemen and six revenue officials, raided the village and herded them under a tree. Hundred men from the village were brutally assaulted while 18 women were gangraped. The raid continued for two days when the hamlet was demolished.
The trial was held at Dharmapuri Principal District Court. There were 269 accused in the case that had 155 forest personnel, 108 policemen and six revenue officials. All the 269 who were accused were sentenced on 29 September 2011. Of the 269, 54 died during the trial. Of the remaining 215, 126 belonged to forest department, 84 were policemen and five were revenue officials. Out of the 17 rapists, 12 were sentenced to 17 years imprisonment and 5 had 5 years. Rest of the accused were sentenced to one to two years in prison.
Police were not ready to accept the case for three years and the then state minister K. A. Sengottaiyan commented that the villagers were aiding sandalwood smuggling. The villagers were denied compensation for a long time. On 12 September 2014, the state government offered a compensation of ₹12.2 lakh to all the victims. An additional ₹60,000 was allocated to each of the 105 villagers who were drafted in the chargesheet filed in 1999. The chargesheet was quashed by the court during November 2012.
Movie on the Incident
The entire incident has been made into a film by the name Vachathi and Novel called Solagar Thotti.
- Dorairaj, S. (2011-10-22). "Justice for Vachathi". Chennai: Frontline. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
- "TN: 19 yrs on, 215 guilty of atrocities on tribals". Hindustan times. Chennai, India. 29 September 2011.
- India abuse: Scores guilty of Dalit rape and torture
- "1992 Vachati mass rape case: 215 forest personnel held guilty, nine for rape". Times of India. Dharmapuri, India. 29 September 2011.
- 215 sentenced to jail in Vachathi case
- Bedi, Rahul (1 October 2011). "215 police and officials jailed for violent attack on village 19 years ago". The Irish Times. Retrieved 13 September 2014. – via HighBeam (subscription required)
- "All 269 guilty in Vachathi mass rape, assault case (Second Lead)". Hindustan Times. Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2014. – via HighBeam (subscription required)
- "17 Indian officials convicted of raping villagers". Online. New Delhi. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2014. – via HighBeam (subscription required)
- "Compensation for 77 Vachathi victims". The Hindu. 13 September 2014.