Tag Archives: Mirchpur

Embers of the agony, when upper caste tried to teach a lesson…

“I heard her cries when the burning roof collapsed on her. How can I now befriend those who doused that roof with petrol? I will not sell my daughter’s body,” said Kamla Devi, who lost her husband and teenaged daughter in the caste based arson on April 21.

Kamla Devi’s sons on Friday refused Government jobs that the administration offered. The Dalits from Mirchpur village protesting outside the District Commissioner’s office in Hisar raised the demand of death penalty for the guilty. Holding the fort firmly, the crowd refused to return to the village until its demand of rehabilitation in a new establishment elsewhere, away from Mirchpur was satisfied.

Eighteen-year-old Suman, who suffered from polio, was trapped in her burning house and was charred to death while her 70-year-old father Tara Chand suffered 90 per cent burns, and died later, when over a dozen houses belonging to the Dalits were set ablaze allegedly by Jats of the same village. Kamla Devi, who faints each time she recalls the events which led to the death of her family members, says she wants nothing, and adds, “what can anyone give me now?”

Claiming that the Dalits have started to realize their collective strength, Krishna Duggal, national president of Akhil Bhartiya Dhanak Samaj, a dalit organization said: “We can not go back to the village where the police brazenly granted Jat an hour’s time to burn homes and the administration has not done anything. The arrests are merely an eye wash and soon the guilty will roam around free.”

Six teenage girls and three boys of Mirchpur, sitting on fast unto death outside, said the politicians are ‘passing time’. “No politicians supported the protest; giving cash compensation to one family will not rehabilitate the dalit families who lost their houses. It will not bring peace to the entire village. The guilty should be given death sentence. That is the only just verdict.”

Meanwhile, Jat representatives of the village visited the District Commissioner and requested that the administration helps bridge the rift so that, “the villagers can live in brotherhood again.” “We all condemn the events and are ashamed of the anti-social elements in the village. But we assure our Valmiki brothers that their life and property will be valued, so they should return to the village,” said Devar Tom Prakash.

The Deputy Commissioner of Hisar, O.P Shaoran, said that despite administration’s attempts the protesters are adamant on not returning to their village. “The administration promptly provided them with security, ration and jobs but their demand for capital punishment (to the guilty) and land in a new village can not be granted the same way.”

In Mirchpur, 60 kms from Hisar, the burned houses stand testimony to the horrible tale that the few Dalit families left in the village detail. “This trunk had clothes that were being stored for her (Suman’s) wedding; this used to be the special handicapped cycle she used; these are burned pages of her books and that hole in the roof is right over the place where we found her body,” says a villager. Each of the over 18 homes has walls blackened by smoke.

“We lost many valuable items — water-coolers, washing machines, televisions, refrigerators and motorcycles; all were doused with petrol and set on fire. They identified houses of the well-off among the Dalit community and set them on fire first. It was an attempt to burn down whatever prosperity they saw,” said a traumatized women whose home was also destroyed.

The Jats term the arson as “a shameful act done by misguided youth,” but the Dalits are convinced that it was a pre-planned attack to curb their prosperity and kill them.

Cases have been registered against policemen who were present at the scene of the incident and allegedly helped the guilty.

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trauma of a village- the honour killing tale

KAITHAL: Two days after five people were given the capital punishment by a court for the so-called honour-killing of a young couple here in Haryana, the family members of the victims are more tense than they are relieved. “The verdict has done justice to my son’s death, but it has not changed the way the village works,” says Chandrapati Berwal who fought the legal battle.

She is the mother of Manoj, who along with Babli was murdered three years ago by Babli’s relatives on the orders of a ‘khap panchayat’ for having married within the same gotra. But Tuesday’s landmark verdict seems to have made little difference to the minds of the votaries of the system of ‘khap panchayats’, which are caste-based.

“The panchayat only intended to bring about a moral balance and inculcate honour in youngsters, although its method was perhaps a bit too harsh,” said a resident of the village, who refused to reveal his name. Asked about the verdict, he said: “The panchayat killed two persons and the court will kill five. At the end of it all the village has lost seven lives. I don’t see justice in any of the verdicts.”

“The villagers, who have boycotted us socially and financially, will not change their mindset. The verdict has given a milder form of punishment to the actual instigator, sarpanch Ganaga Raj,” said Ms. Chandrapati. She alleged that panchayats could get away with giving such harsh orders and executing them only owing to political backing and the inefficiency of the police. For the last three years one police constable has been guarding her doors, but since the verdict on Tuesday the police presence around her house in Kerora village has increased. “Earlier there was one man, now there are two jeeps. But I and my daughter are as unsafe as we ever were. The police could do nothing when a few goons went after my son and his wife. What will the police do if all of them barge into my house at once?”

A tense calm prevails in the dusty village. Nobody will publicly discuss the matter, and except in Ms. Chandrapati’s house none dares to talk about it even indoors. Village sarpanch Karambeer Singh refused even to come out of his house. The street where Babli once lived wears a pall of gloom. The women in Babli’s maternal house sit with stony expressions and refuse to identify themselves or talk to anyone, especially mediapersons, who are often seen as the villains who exaggerated the issue.

“They tried to hide their sin from us, and then they tried to threaten, boycott and even bribe us so that we keep quiet. My son will not return but they will bear the pain of their wrongs so that such inhuman decisions are never taken by anyone,” she said.

A few kilometres from Ms. Chandrapati’s village, in Matour village, Hari Krishan cries with his son’s photographs in his hands. His hope is that a similar judgment would come in his case as well: his 23-year-old son was lynched by a crowd for marrying a girl from the neighbouring village. Ved Pal and his wife Sonia’s marriage was accepted by both the families as they were of the same caste although the gotras differed. But later the ‘khap panchayat’ instigated Sonia’s family to forcibly marry the 17-year-old to a 50-year-old man and later kill Ved Pal.

“My son was killed by a mob because a panchayat felt that marrying a girl from the neighbouring village was ‘incest’. And I was expected to make peace with this explanation? After this verdict I feel that unlike the politicians and the police, the law is not going to be unjust to us. But the sarpanch [Ganga Raj] should have been given the death penalty as he was the root cause of the trouble,” said Mr. Hari Krishan.

Mr. Hari Krishan, who has cancer, said he too was approached by the sarpanch of Sonia village for a compromise. “They offered me Rs.25 lakh. They think a father can forgive his son’s murderer just because he is poor. I will fight this case till the last drop of blood.”

This father then cried out aloud, and asked: “Because of the khap so many families have lost their breadwinners. Why didn’t they let them live? What honour comes from giving widows and orphans to homes that were otherwise happy?”

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