//Rajputs torch Dalits' houses in Karnal village

Rajputs torch Dalits' houses in Karnal village

Manveer Saini, 2 Mar, 2007 TIMES NEWS NETWORK

SALWAN (KARNAL): Over 60 Rajput men on Thursday went berserk and terrorised Dalit families here, setting their houses on fire and ransacking their belongings. The incident, which evoked memories of Gohana violence last year, was explained by the police as an act to avenge the murder of a 35-year-old farmer whose body was found on Monday.

Matters went out of hand when marauding mobs, after setting afire a kirana shop owned by a Dalit, torched police gypsies and attacked policemen on duty. At least 25 homes were burnt down in the violence, and six policemen and two Dalit youths were injured in the clashes that followed through the day.

There are around 200 Dalit families in this village of Karnal, in Haryana, which has a dominant population of around 35,000 Rajputs. When TOI visited the spot, embers were still simmering and tension palpable in the air.

The district administration, repeating its lethargy during the Gohana violence, reached the troubled site late, unable to fend the loss to a group of families that clearly had no one to shield them. By evening, though, the entire village was fortified.

Police had to resort to lathicharge as Dalits, while protesting the delay in police action, turned aggressive. It all started when Billu and Pardeep, two Dalit youths, allegedly murdered Mahipal, a Rajput farmer after purported casteist remarks were directed at them when their sheep entered Mahipal's fields.

The farmer's body was found in his field on Monday morning. Billu and Pardeep were arrested on Tuesday, but tension has been simmering in the area ever since. An unconfirmed number of Dalit families have fled the village in the aftermath of the violence