Friday, November 29, 2002

Panel blames cops, not caste

NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 28: In a preliminary report, the National SC and ST Commission has said that it was the police that were primarily responsible for the lynching of Dalits in Jhajjar, that caste was not a factor and that the incident was an accident and not motivated.

''The police killed them to hide their fault,'' Chairman of the Commission Bijoy Sonkar Shastri told The Indian Express. ''The families of the victims came here and they told us the police wanted bribe and when they did not succeed, they killed the five Dalits.''

Pinning responsibility on the local policemen for the lynching, Shastri said the police were aware the victims were Dalits but did nothing to save them. ''They, in fact, helped in the lynching,'' he charged.

He also said the arrests made so far in the case were a mere eyewash while the real culprits are yet to be arrested.

The Commission believes the victims' caste was not a factor at all in their being targeted by an ''ordinary'' mob and that the incident was an ''accident'' and ''not motivated''.

''Anti-social elements'' helped by the police created an atmosphere of suspicion by spreading rumours that five men had killed cows, provoking a crowd of people returning from a fair, Shastri said. ''The people did not attack the five men because they knew that they were Dalits but because they were told that they had killed cows,'' he added.

Asked whether there was any evidence of the VHP inciting the crowd, Shastri said: ''No such evidence has been found.''

Though a comprehensive report is yet to be prepared, among the recommendations the Commission has made are compensation for the Dalit families, action against the police and guidelines to avoid a repeat of the incident.

Shastri was a BJP MP from Varanasi before he joined the Commission as its chairman. ''I am also from the SC/ST and during my term as MP, always kept their interests in mind,'' he said.

Source: The Indian Express, November 29, 2002

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