200 Dalit families flee village after attack by upper caste group

Published - April 17, 2013 02:59 am IST - Chandigarh:

Thirteen people of the Ror community have been arrested and heavy security deployed in Pabnawa village of Kaithal district in Haryana, after a 400-strong mob allegedly launched an attack on 150 Dalits on Saturday, causing some 200 Dalit families to flee the village. Their houses were allegedly looted and women humiliated.

The attack was a sequel to Dalit boy Suryakant’s marriage with Ror community girl Meena on April 10.

The Rors comprise 60 per cent of the village population. On Tuesday, a committee headed by P.L. Punia, chairman of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission, visited the village and directed the district administration to assess the economic loss of the Dalits and expedite compensation payment.

They were allegedly attacked with rods and sticks in a well-planned operation, during which the electricity supply to the village was reportedly cut off. It was restored only after the police reached the spot some hours later.

Suryakant and Meena eloped and married in Chandigarh and then approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court for police protection from the girl’s parents who had lodged a complaint of kidnapping against Suryakant. The two were put in a protection home in Kaithal under police protection, even as many of the Dalit women and children of the village who fled on Saturday night are yet to return. This includes the family of Suryakant.

Deputy Commissioner Chandrashekhar told The Hindu that since most of the houses were locked it was difficult to assess the economic loss.

Mr. Punia told reporters that clashes like this were the result of the growing economic clout of Dalits and their consequent assertion which was not liked by upper caste communities.

The State government has announced a compensation of Rs 1,20,000 each for the three persons who were seriously injured in the attack.

Pabnawa is one of the handful of villages in Kaithal, which has a reputation for lawlessness.

Officials of the district administration say that only 15 per cent of the houses here have electricity connections; the remaining prefer to steal it. There are numerous complaints of eve teasing and bad behaviour with women from here, as also reports of its villagers frequently travelling ticketless on local trains.

Mr. Chandrashekhar had marked it as a potential trouble spot ever since he held one of his night camps in Pabnawa in February.

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