Another Dalit carnage as UP caught in spiral of violence

HASNAPUR (FATEHPUR): It started with a trivial fight between two children in March. And on Sunday five members of a Dalit family _ four women and a one-and-a-half-year-old boy _ were beaten to death in this village by Thakurs, in a pattern that's becoming quite common in Rajnath Singh's UP. No one has been arrested so far though an FIR naming four alleged culprits was filed at the Hasanganj police station.

And Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati, in election mode, descended on the village in no time. Her words of consolation _ ``I can't do anything because I am not in power'' _ carrying a not-so-subtle electoral message. Accusing the Chief Minister of failing to contain the violence against the Dalits, she announced a state-wide agitation from June 20.

The latest incident _ one of the 1,500 reported in the past six months _ has come just days after the killing of as many people in Jehrana village of Aligarh district _ where there was little evidence of any tension earlier _ and the burning alive of a 45-year-old woman in a village in Jalaun district. No arrests have been made in the Jalaun case so far while the main culprit in the Aligarh killings, Gullu Singh, is absconding though four other people have been arrested.

In fact, there has been a spurt in crimes against Dalits after Kalyan Singh took over the reins of the state from Mayawati and made the law pertaining to atrocities against Dalits virtually ineffective. Under that law people were being arrested immediately after registration of complaints. When many cases of reported abuse of this provision came to Singh's notice, he ordered that an inquiry be conducted before the registration of cases and arrests.As a result, the police stopped registering cases after declaring complaints as false. The Dalits then began approaching the SC/ST Commission.

In 1995-96, the Commission had received 2,065 complaints. Just four years later in 1999-2000, the figure had risen eight-fold to 16,219. The commission imprisoned 700 persons in 1999-2000 and 1,398 in 2000-2001, giving a total compensation of Rs 73.85 lakh (389 victims) and Rs 48 lakh (440 victims), respectively.

The seeds of Sunday's outrage were sown in March this year when a case was registered against the Thakurs, Devideen Singh and his wife, under the SC/ST Act at the local police station by the Dalit family. This had followed the two families clashing over a kids' brawl. The Thakurs tried in vain to get the Dalit family withdraw the FIR, and finally vented their fury by killing four women of the family _ and the infant _ while they were working in the field.

The Dalits were, in fact, tempting fate by taking on the Thakurs: there are just a 100 of them as against the 900-strong Thakur community in the village. No wonder there are no eyewitnesses though this happened in broad daylight. ``No one will speak in our favour because we cannot harm anyone while the Thakurs can strike back,'' said Kalu, a relative of Babu, who lost his wife in the carnage. The deceased have been identified as Tejani (50), Jagpata (35), Lalita(10), Puja(6) and Manish.

Justice may be eluding them but the victims' kin have been promptly given a compensation of Rs 5.25 lakh. ``We got the cheque but there is no trace of the killers as yet because the local police is hand-in-glove with them,'' alleged Kamla, the mother of 10-year-old Lalita.

``We were virtually dragged from our house to be with the bodies but were not allowed to see the faces. They then virtually threw the dead bodies into the Ganga without giving a chance to us to perform the last rites,'' said Babu.

While the Chief Minister is blaming the rival political parties for engineering the violence to give him a bad name, the Opposition sees a desig in the series of incidents. ``Elections can be held any time in the state. If any party (read the BJP) is sure that it would not get the vote of a particular community, the best thing for it would be to demonstrate that it is with other communities. The Rajnath Singh government is doing the same thing by siding with the Thakurs, just as Mayawati went with the Dalits,'' says Alok Mishra, CPI(M) general secretary.

Whatever may be the truth, UP seems to be heading for more caste violence in the run-up the elections.

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Referred by: Sashi Kanth
Published on: June 20, 2001
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