Friday, October 18, 2002

Action on Dalit murders: cow sent for post-mortem

SP says this will prove if cow was dead or alive! How does this affect the case? 'It will explain the mob's anger'


Action on Dalit murders: cow sent for post-mortem

BADSHAHPUR/ JHAJJAR, OCTOBER 17: Two days after five Dalits are lynched barely two hours from the heart of the nation's capital, this is the status report: Not a single arrest, a few statements of outrage, the local VHP justifying the murder. And if you thought this was shocking, consider this: the administration has sent the carcass of the cow for a post mortem.

To ostensibly find out if the victims were skinning a live cow or a dead cow!

''Final conclusion will be drawn after the report comes,'' says Muhammad Akil, Superintendent of Police, Jhajjar, ''the viscera has been preserved for further investigation.'' The Indian Express questioned Akil:

Have you identified any suspects?
No, today the priority is to maintain law and order, dousing the inflamed passions of the people.

Given that the five were murdered, how is the postmortem of the cow relevant?
It will show how the mob got emotional when they saw an act like this.

The victims' families say they have been doing this for generations. Why will they stop in front of a police station to skin a live cow?

It is unusual. It was their maut (death) that forced them to stop.

All this is a cruel joke for Ratan Singh, father of 27-year-old Virender Singh, one of those burnt alive. A resident of Badshahpur village in Gurgaon, Ratan Singh says that this is nothing but a cover-up.

''We have been doing this for three generations. There is no question of them skinning a cow by the side of the road. They worked on contracts which they got from Municipality auctions,'' he says.

''The truck the five Dalits were travelling in had hides and would never carry a carcass.''

According to him, his son and his nephew Dayachand hired a truck, picked up hides from Farruqnagar and were going to Karnal to sell it. A trader from Karnal, Kailash, was with them.

Dayachand, in his early 30s, has left behind his young wife and two children.

Dayachand's father Budhram alleges that as per his inquiries, the police stopped the truck and asked the five Dalits for a bribe.

''When they refused to pay, they were beaten up and a case registered under the Cow Slaughter Act. Since one of them got seriously injured, they had no option but to spread the story that they were killing a cow.''

Totaram and Raju were the driver and the conductor of the truck. Raju was only 16 and his father Ram Pal is a sweeper in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

''We were told at three in the morning that here had been an accident and that our sons were admitted in the Jhajjar Civil Hospital,'' says Ram Pal.

''When we rushed there, it was difficult to identify the bodies. They were half burnt, their eyes gouged out.''

In the FIR, the police claim that they tried protecting the victims but were helpless. ''4-5,000 strong mob that had gone mad and was armed with stones and swords attacked us (police),'' says the FIR.

Despite several eyewitnesses and officials admitting they were there, no one has been named in the FIR. ''When the City Magistrate met us, he told us that 10 faces were in front of his eyes right through the night and he could not sleep, why can't he identify them and catch them,'' asks Raju's father.

A special ''investigative team'' has been set up under DSP Jhajjar Narender Singh. But this has made no headway in the case for, as Akil himself admits: ''We have been busy explaining the circumstances of the case to maintain law and order. The ramifications could spread to other states.''

Meanwhile, the usual suspects have come rushing in. Ram Vilas Paswan is going to visit the victim's families. Today, Brinda Karat with other Left leaders met authorities. On Sunday, 50 village panchayats are meeting in Gurgaon. Social organisations demanded that Rs 10 lakh be paid to each victim's family along with a government job.

Source: Indian Express, October 18, 2002


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