Tuesday, August 13, 2002

NH-58 blocked for 5 hrs after Dalit’s murder

Meerut

Several angry villagers of the Dalit community today protested against the police over the death of a poor villager of the Scheduled Caste community. They were also shouting slogans against a particular caste. They felt that the members of that caste were involved in the killing of the Dalit. The villagers staged a demonstration, laying out the body on National Highway 58, which connects New Delhi to Uttaranchal.

The highway was blocked for more than five hours. Long queues of vehicles were seen on both sides of the highway. The angry villagers were demanding the immediate arrest of persons of the Gujjar caste who, they alleged, were involved in the murder.

The son of the deceased lodged an FIR and charged that his father, Baghmal, 45, had gone to irrigate the sugarcane fields of Ram Karan Gujjar on Sunday evening. When Baghmal did not return home till late in the night, his son Jagvir went to the fields in search of his father but could find no sign of him. Then a group of villagers searched for him. Baghmal’s body was found in a nearby sugarcane field. He had been stabbed to death. His body bore several deep wounds. His son informed the police and charged that his father had been done to death by the Gujjars. Several Dalits gathered on the spot and when the police official ordered a post-mortem examination, the aggrieved villagers stopped the police from sending the body for the examination. A sufficient number of women and children of Dalits joined the mob and started shouting slogans against the police. They lay the body on National Highway 58 and blocked the road. Soon, a mile-long queue of vehicles formed on both sides of the highway. The mob even manhandled the SHO who informed his superiors. Soon, SHOs of Partapur, T P Nagar, Nauchandi, Delhi Gate, Brahampuri and Railway Road police stations rushed to the spot with forces. CO II Somitra Yadav and the Additional City Magistrate accompanied the police force and tried to clear the national highway but failed.

The SSP, Mr Mukul Goel, the SP (City), Mr D. K. Chaudhry, also rushed to Bhoor Baral village and the Partapur police station to negotiate with the villagers. The police used force but failed to clear the road. The police could not even persuade the villagers to send the body for examination as the villagers were demanding the arrest of the Gujjars involved in this case. Police officials also faced a hard line as the matter was directly related to the Dalits. No police official was ready to take any chance as the matter was of a sensitive nature. Soon, the SSP sought the help of the SHO of women’s police station to clear the highway as women formed a sizeable majority of the agitators. SHO Madhu Malti arrested some women with the help of lady constables. The other police officials ordered the force to disperse the mob. Later, the body was sent for an autopsy. Police officials assured the Dalits that they would arrest the killer soon.

Source: The Tribune, August 13, 2002

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