Friday, November 07, 2003

Dalits burn 7 tribals in feud over grazing land

MOHIT DUBEY

DAUSPUR SIWLI (Unnao): Seven members of a tribal family were burnt alive here on Wednesday night, when a mob of over 200 Dalits locked them inside their house and set fire to it.

The tragedy was the result of a spat between two neighbours - the Gangaram family, who were Kanjars, and Ramnath, a Pasi (a Dalit sub-caste) - over grazing land.

On Wednesday morning, some of Gangaram's goats strayed into Ramnath's sugarcane fields, ruining some of the crop. When Gangaram's wife went to get back her goats from Ramnath, some of his men roughed her up.

Later, according to Babulal (the only member of the Gangaram family who survived the fire), Ramnath's men and the village pradhan led a mob to Gangaram's house.

Armed with batons, sticks and axes, the group of Pasi men attacked the family, doused the walls and roof of the house with kerosene and set fire to it.

Gangaram, 55, his wife, Bitoli, 52, son Munni Lal, 24, and grand-daughters Seema, 9, and Neetu, 7 all perished in the fire. Two relatives who were visiting from Sitapur, Hori Lal, 55, and Teena, 1, also died.

The fire was put out by villagers at about 3 am on Thursday. By then, all that remained were some smouldering clothes, grocery and furniture.

The police arrested 11 people and booked them for murder. The hardest one to get was the pradhan, Mulai, who fled the scene of the incident and was only rounded up when the IG (zone) Lucknow and other senior officials camped in the village and led combing operations.

Mulai, Ramnath and the other detained persons, named in the FIR, denied having committed the crime. They said the house was in flames when they reached the spot. However, Babulal said Mulai had led the mob and had shouted that even the SDM and the district magistrate could not help the Gangaram family escape death.

Source: The Times of India, November 7, 2003

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