Dalit killings cause concern in Uttar Pradesh

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow

Two recent incidents involving killing of dalits by members of the upper caste have brought under fire the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government in Uttar Pradesh.

The killing of four Dalits of a family in Hardoi (about 90 km from Lucknow) on Sunday came close on the heels of a similar incident in Tundla (near Agra) where seven persons belonging to the oppressed classes were done to death last week.

Even as UP's police chief S R Arun claimed that the incidents were basically "acts of crime which had been given a caste colour due to political reasons", there was no denying that Sunday's incident arose out of a love affair between a Dalit and the member of the upper castes.

Arun confirmed, "Briraj, a young Dalit fell in love with Poonam, who happened to be the daughter of an upper caste Rajput police sub-inspector; however, since the father of the girl insisted on getting her married to someone else belonging to their own caste, the boy and the girl decided to elope."

"This infuriated the girl's father Ram Nath Singh who, together with three friends, confronted Briraj's family, and shot down the father Rustam and three brothers, Rakesh, Puttu Lal and Vijay Pal," he pointed out.

Arun, however, claimed that prompt action followed and each of the four persons named in the FIR were arrested the very next day.

Meanwhile, much heat and dust was raised over the issue in the ongoing session of the state assembly by members of the Bahujan Samaj Party. Joined by other opposition parties, BSP members condemned the government for "such unabated atrocities on Dalits".

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