Saturday, December 04, 2004

Dalits 'fished out' of village after dispute

Byas Shankar Upadhya

Rajbiraj: After a dispute over the issue of fishing at three local ponds, over 60 dalit families of Rampura located at Chhinamasta VDC of Saptari have been displaced from their village.

Locals allege that former VDC chairman Surya Narayan Mandal set fire to the houses of Rajendra Sada, Rajba Sada and late Madeshiya Sada yesterday. The Sadas are stranded after their houses were gutted. The fire was put out with the help of local Musahars (dalits). This morning, allegedly egged on by the former VDC chairman, 200 people of Mandal Kupahi, Khudiwkhari and Kundanma VDCs not only manhandled the dalits but also kicked them out of their houses.

The mob beat up the local Musahars including Rajendra Sada, Shiva Narayan Sada, Dilip Sada, Santosh Sada, Dhokai Sada, Basant Sada, Chandeshwor Sada, Gundeshwor Sada and Dudnind Sada and also shut them in Nachari Mandal’s house. Seven-year-old Santosh Sada sustained severe head injuries. The VDC is located 20 km south of the district headquarters, and no security force could reach there in time.

Taking the advantage of the absence of the security forces, goons also planted bombs and weapons in the dalits' houses to put them in trouble, alleged Kushumlal Sada, a victim. According to Sada, hired goons not only placed 10 bombs at each of their houses but also terrified locals by firing blank shots. Police have arrested Mandal, said police inspector Rewat Bahadur Khadak.

The root of the dispute lies in the fact that the landless Musahars had started cultivating public land located at Babaji Dyaura. Mandal had handed over the land to a local Chhatu Thakur. The Musahars, who had helped desilt the three ponds, were also denied the right to fish in the ponds. The dispute started on this issue, according to locals.

The Musahars claimed half the share in the ponds. After they laid claim, they were attacked allegedly at the behest of Mandal. Upendra Sada, Tetar Sada, Shivashankar Sada and Kusumlal Mukhiya who were on way to a neighbouring VDC in search of work, alleged they were attacked by Mandal’s sons Tej Narayan and Jay Narayan.

Source: The Himalayan Times, December 04, 2004

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