Sunday, February 15, 2004

Rise in attacks on Haryana dalits

Sutapa Deb

Sunday, February 15, 2004 (Rohtak):

Haryana is witnessing widespread protests over the rising number of attacks on Dalits. The mysterious disappearance of a dalit sarpanch from his village has once again highlighted this issue.

Four months ago, Karan Singh mysteriously disappeared from the Brahmin-dominated Pehrewar village in Rohtak district.

For the last 60 days, people have been on a dharna protesting police inaction in this case. Now they are demanding a CBI inquiry.

"The sarpanch was sleeping here when four people came and called him out," said Karan Singh's brother.

The callers took Karan Singh to a dairy near his house because they wanted to force a decision on the village land worth crores of rupees.

Intra-caste dispute

One group of Brahmins wanted the panchayat to donate the land to the Gaur Brahmin Shikshan Sanstha, but another Brahmin group was violently opposed to it.

"The upper castes tried to keep him under their thumb," says a villager.

Karan Singh never returned.

In the Brahmin quarters of the village, the families of the accused are wary. But even they do not deny there was pressure on the sarpanch.

"He is missing because there was pressure from two parties. One wanted to give land, another was against it. When they got to know, the resolution was cancelled," said Hem Chand, one of the men who had called sarpanch for the meeting.

Police inaction

Karan Singh's family fears that he was killed. Yet the police has ignored this line of investigation and none of the accused has been arrested.

In fact, the police refused to lodge an FIR till over a month after the incident.

"These people were not ready to lodge a written complaint. They thought he had a history in the past. Around eight to nine years ago he had gone missing and he returned after nine months," said Sharad Kumar, IG, Rohtak range.

The family says it is untrue. Karan Singh's disappearance has exposed the partisan role played by the administration in cases involving attacks on Dalits.

This is only the latest in a series of cases involving attacks on dalits in Haryana.

In October, 2002, five dalits were lynched in Duleena village in Jhajjar district.

Two hundred dalit families fled their homes, in Harsola village of Kaithal district, after being attacked.

Just a few months ago, a woman dalit sarpanch was beaten in public at Gandhra village of Rohtak district.

Source: NDTV, February 15, 2004


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