Saturday, March 06, 2004

Caste violence erupts over land dispute

Ruksh Chatterji

Saturday, March 6, 2004 (Karnal):

A small property dispute in a village in Karnal district of Haryana, flared into violence over caste issues.

On Wednesday night, Rajput men had allegedly attacked Harijan's who'd settled on land given to them after the local court had ruled in their favour.

"The plots had been allotted to the Harijans, and they put up their huts. But at night a large group of men came and knocked them down," said Pawan Kumar, Harijan.

And the victims in Salvan village are clearly shaken. "I was asleep in my hut, suddenly there was noise, and the walls had been broken on both sides and I was trapped below the bricks," said Chattra, a victim.

Counter blame

However, women, whose husbands have been picked up in connection with the attack, claim that it was the Harijans, who'd cut the power to their homes.

"These people wanted to have a few electric poles out of the way. They wanted to knock them down, but our men stopped them. That is why the fight erupted," said Sunita, wife of accused.

The root cause of caste related violence is often economic and it's no different in Salvan village, where the division of a few plots has left the villagers alienated from each other.

No police action

While the case has been registered, the police say that no arrests have been made because the dispute is a civil matter.

"They have decided to hold a panchayat on the 9th to sort out the problem. They have asked us not to get involved," said Sibash Kabiraj, SSP, Karnal.

But the administration fears that ahead of the elections, politicians can play up matters like these to garner votes.

"The fight in Salvan is due to politics at the panchayat level. That is the root cause," said Ranbir Singh Doon DC, Karnal.

And the administration is likely to have it's hands full in the next few months as more such situations are likely to arise.

Source: NDTV, March 6, 2004

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