//Protection demanded for Dalit families

Protection demanded for Dalit families

Violent attack on their houses which left many injured in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan

JAIPUR: The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) on Sunday demanded protection to Dalit families of Bhagwanpura village in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan in the aftermath of a violent attack on their houses in the night of July 2. Several Dalits were injured and their houses ransacked allegedly in the presence of police.

A three-member fact-finding team of NCDHR, which visited Bhagwanpura over the weekend, noticed an atmosphere of fear and panic among Dalits in the village in the midst of their social boycott by the people of higher castes. Police have not registered any criminal case in connection with the incident and launched the probe on the basis of a previous FIR.

Trouble started on July 2 when two Dalit children, visiting the village to attend a function in the family of relatives, purchased ice-cream in saucers at a shop.

When the shopkeeper learned about the children's caste, he snatched saucers from them and thrashed them. Later, the elders of Dalit family apologised on behalf of children for breaking the "caste norms''.

As the news about the children belonging to Valmiki (sweeper) caste eating ice-cream in the saucers of an upper caste shopkeeper spread in the village, influential people gathered in Charbhuja temple and decided to "teach a lesson'' to Dalits. Meanwhile, Dalits — sensing trouble — lodged a complaint at Mandal police station and sought protection to their houses.

NCDHR State secretary Satish Kumar said a huge crowd of higher caste people attacked Dalits' houses in the night, even though a police force from Mandal had already been deployed in the locality.

Policemen allegedly remained mute spectators when arsonists ransacked houses for three hours, beat Dalits, pillaged household goods and insulted women.

The injuries of one of the victims were described as "normal'' by the doctor at the local Government hospital despite fractures in his arm. The NCDHR has demanded initiation of criminal proceedings under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against the doctor and in-charge of Mandal police station for dereliction of duty.

The NCDHR has recommended addition of Sections 392 (robbery) and 444 (lurking house-trespass by night) of I.P.C. to the FIR registered on Dalits' complaint on July 2 evening and establishment of a temporary police post near the Dalit locality in Bhagwanpura.