Thursday, October 17, 2002

5 Dalits lynched in Haryana, entire administration watches

By Sonu Jain

JHAJJAR, HARYANA, OCTOBER 16: Less than two hours from the capital, this was the scene today outside the Dulena police post in Jhajjar district: patches of blood on the road, a pile of smouldering ashes.

This is where five Dalits, all in their 20s, were beaten to death last night, two of them torched. They were doing what they have been doing for years: skinning dead cows to sell the hide. This time, however, ''someone'' spread the word that the cow was alive.

So a mob, returning after the Dussehra fair, dragged them out of the police post where they had taken refuge and lynched them to the cries of Gau mata ki jai. Watched by the City Magistrate, the DSP of Jhajjar and Bahadurgarh, the Municipal Corporator's husband, the Block Development Officer and at least 50 policemen.

Says City Magistrate Raj Pal Singh who saw the lynching: ''We tried stopping them but got hurt ourselves in the process. I was dragged a few feet away, otherwise I would have been killed.''

One FIR has been registered against ''unknown people,'' while a second has been filed against the victims under the Cow Slaughter Act.

Local office-bearers of the VHP and the Shiv Sena have submitted a memorandum to the local police asking them not to take any action against the guilty.

The Indian Express spoke to several eyewitnesses and district officials to reconstruct the incident. And they suggested this was no impulsive act, the frenzy built up over a good three and a half hours-the Dalits were first ''spotted'' at 6.30 pm, beaten and dragged to the police post and then battered to death between 9 and 10 pm.

* Five Dalits had bought what they claimed was a dead cow from Farooqnagar and were on their way to sell the hide-something which they traditionally do here to earn a living.

* They were first seen 500 m from the police post by a group of men returning from Dusshera festivities.

* This group reached Jhajjar, 15 minutes away, and informed the local Dharamshala that ''cow slaughter was going on.''

* Within minutes, two vehicles with the District Magistrate, two priests from the temple and some local VHP leaders left for the spot.

* By then, the five had sought refuge at the police post. The word spread in at least 10 nearby villages, and in an hour, the crowd swelled to 2,000.

''Local VHP workers and some anti-social elements were spotted at the scene,'' says District Commissioner Mohinder Kumar, who claims he reached late because of a traffic jam. ''The word spread by telephone, word of mouth and of course a tractor full of people returning from the fair stopped.''

Local VHP office-bearers dare the police to take action. ''If they can kill our mother then what if we kill our brothers who kill her,'' says Mahendra Parmanand, the priest of the local temple. ''I will say it in front of the police that what they were doing was wrong and they deserve to be punished,'' says Ramesh Saini, VHP office-bearer.

Shishu Pal from the local Shiv Sena unit says that whatever happened was wrong but ''could not have been helped.''

Source: Indian Express, October 17, 2002


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