Thursday, January 16, 2003

Mystery shrouds death of Dalit couple

Manu Sharma

Thursday, January 16, 2003 (Saharanpur):

A small village in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh is tense after a young couple died there three days ago. There are different versions about what happened. Some villagers say Rajesh and Sunayana were beaten and then burnt alive by the girl's family because they eloped. However, the police insist it was suicide.

Crowds around 25-year-old Rajesh's house are the only indication of the tension in the village simmering just below the surface.

The villagers allege that Rajesh had to elope with a pregnant Sunayana to get married as her parents were against the marriage. And when the couple returned, they were brutally beaten and burnt to death.

Even though both of them were from the Dalit community, since the incident occurred in Mayawati's area, it has assumed even greater significance.

"The girl's family set the two on fire without letting anyone know. The family supports the BSP and some of them are senior leaders in the BSP," alleged Arvind, Panchayat member.

The incident is being discussed in every corner of the village, especially at tea stalls. But when NDTV questioned a local, he refused to respond.

"We don't know anything," said another.

While the fear of the administration has ensured that no one wants to openly talk about the incident, even the police seem to be covering up the issue. They claim that the two committed suicide by consuming poison.

"The doctors say that both of them died due to consumption of poison," said a police official.

The incident has acquired political colours, which is sure to keep it in the headlines for some more time.

Source: NDTV, January 16, 2003

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