The violent attack in Hisar’s Mirchpur village that left two dead and several homeless on April 21 was ostensibly a fallout of a dog’s bark, but members of an independent fact finding committee assert that the incident is a manifestation of the long standing and deep rooted acrimony between the lower and upper castes.

Non-government organisations, National Dalit Movement for Justice and ANHAD (Act Now for Democracy), that sent a fact finding team to Mirchpur released a report on the incident in the Capital on Tuesday.

The report points out that the incident that left 18 houses gutted, a physically challenged girl and her 70 year-old-father dead and a community of Balmikis uprooted has at its centre a long-standing caste bias.

“The attack has been selectively carried out against the well off in that village, shops have been gutted, houses looted. And we also came to know that the women in the village managed to escape criminal assault,” said Basha Singh, a senior journalist who was part of the team.

Critical of the administrations and the Government’s role, the team alleges that not only has the Government failed to rehabilitate the victims, the relevant sections of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act have not been mentioned in the FIR.

“This would allow the offenders to be released with minimal punishment or even acquittal in the case,” the report says.

It also says the genesis of the problem was a contract that was awarded to Dalits for managing the local temple festival. “The prosperity and independence of a section of Dalits was begrudged by the Jats….the village of Mirchpur has a history of violence against Dalits as evidenced by the 2007 incident where five Dalits belonging to the Dom community were paraded naked and abused,” the report states.

Armed with testimonies from the victims, most of whom have fled from the village the team has sought the immediate arrest of the 14 absconding culprits named in the FIR, suspension and initiation of criminal cases against the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of the Hisar Police for allowing an illegal Khap Panchayat of Jats on April 24 in the village.

They have also sought the case to be heard in a fast track court, appointment of a special public prosecutor for the case, registration of a case against the station house officer and the Tehsildar under section 4 of the PoA Act.

“Since many Dalits are landless in Mirchpur and have sought relocation, in the long term the government must consider resettling Dalits and give them cultivable land and other resources of employment,” the team’s recommendations state.

Keywords: Caste clashes

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