Attacked by ‘upper caste men’ while hoisting flag, say Dalits

Clash took place near Ambedkar statue; police say issue stems from a land dispute

Published - August 18, 2021 03:19 am IST - NEW DELHI

de18 dahiya de18 fight

de18 dahiya de18 fight

Members of the Dalit community at Jatav Mohalla in Delhi’s Tughlakabad have accused “members of the upper caste” of attacking and ill-treating them when they tried to hoist the Tricolour on Independence Day near a statue of B.R. Ambedkar.

The police said an altercation took place between families of the Jatav community and the family of Jitender, who belongs to the Gurjar community. Eight people were injured in the clash and cross-FIRs have been registered, the police said, adding that the issue stems from a years-long land dispute.

According to cloth trader Chander Pal, 56, residents of Jatav Mohalla decided to hoist the national flag at 11 a.m. near a statue built on a piece of disputed land.

“That land was allotted for construction of a marriage hall for our community but the upper caste men objected to it. One particular family intervened and ensured a procedural delay. The hall has still not been constructed,” he said.

Usage of land

Jitender and his family have allegedly laid claim over the plot for the past several years. The Jatav community said that they want to use the vacant plot for their community gatherings and social ceremonies. But Jitender’s family allegedly started using the land to rear their cattle and to dump cow and buffalo dung.

Mr. Pal said that on April 15, the family installed a statue of B.R. Ambedkar “to appease us” but continued to use the land to their advantage. “There used to be cow dung everywhere and even close to the statue. It’s disrespectful. Women from our community took to cleaning the area daily,” he said.

On Independence Day, Mr. Pal said that when they gathered at the plot and hoisted the flag, the family objected to them using the area for the event. “It started as an argument but eventually a bunch of them gathered and started pelting stones at us. We somehow managed to flee,” he said.

Mr. Pal said that the issue of usage of the plot has been an ongoing matter since 2013 and the community feels that they are not treated as equals. “We have houses measured in yards and they have acres,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (South-East) R.P. Meena said a PCR call regarding the quarrel was received at Govindpuri police station.

“On reaching the spot, it was found that the family of one Jitender got into a quarrel with Mr. Pal and some residents of Jatav Mohalla over removal of tarpaulin and wood. This is an old dispute between the two sides,” he said, adding that Mr. Pal alleged he was abused during the incident. On the other hand, Mr. Jitender said he was beaten up by the crowd.

During the clash, both sides suffered minor injuries and medical examination was conducted, the police added. Both parties make regular complaints against each other, an officer said. However, both the parties had settled the matter amicably. Further probe is on, the police said.

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