Despite being offered government jobs, monetary compensation and police security, Dalits in this Haryana village are adamant on their demand for a separate village. “Why is it so difficult for everyone to understand? Our homes were burnt by our neighbours in front of police, what sort of peace will the administration offer us?” asked Subhash, a disillusioned villager.
On April 21 over a dozen houses belonging to the Dalits were set ablaze allegedly by Jats of the same village over a minor row. Eighteen-year-old Suman, who suffered from polio, was trapped in her burning house and was charred to death on the spot, while her father Tara Chand (70) suffered 90 per cent burns and died later.
While the administration had claimed that the victims of Mirchpur incident were being fully compensated for the loss to their houses and domestic goods, the burned down streets of the village bear a haunted deserted look as only one third of the Dalits are left in the village.
“Most of the dalits of the village left soon after the incident to live with relatives elsewhere and a group has gone to New Delhi, to protest and demand a safe haven – our own village. The ones that are still in the village are feeling safe only due to the excessive police presence,” said another villager.
Two of Tara Chand's sons have started working at the Hisar secretariat, on the posts that the administration offered and a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh has been given to the family. But no rehabilitation is visible at the site of the tragedy, “The administration had sent some bricks, but the villagers sent them away. We are not going to stay here at any cost, then why built structures on the graves?” said Subhash.
Speaking to The Hindu from New Delhi, Satyawan, who is leading the protest group at Jantar Mantar said, “Administration and politicians don't care if we live or die, as long as they don't look bad. Our demand for a separate village and death penalty for the murderers has not been addressed by anyone yet but we will continue to demand justice.”
On May 2 the Deputy Commissioner, Hisar, Mr.O.P.Sheoran assured that relief will be provided to the victim families and the accused involved in this incident would be punished at all cost. He also appealed to the people of the Mirchpur to maintain peace and brotherhood of the village.
When asked about the attitude of Jat members of the village, 45 year- old Mala Devi said, “Due to the police no one says anything in open but they approach us, directly or via the panchayat members and give us subtle hints that we should budge or else there could be trouble.”
The Jat households of the village, whose men have been convicted and arrested in the arson case, refused to speak to the media. Interestingly all the Upper Caste villagers claimed that their entire family was not in the village at the time of the incident.
“Since that day, a Dalit family can not even find a glass of milk inside the village; we fetch these basics from near by places. Each villager is dependent on his village, Government can provide jobs to a handful, but what will the Dalits do when another community continues to oppose their right to live?” asked a 65-yar-old Dalit man who stayed back in the village.
Keywords: Mirchpur Dalit carnage