Dalit sugarcane worker burnt to death, one held

He was killed on Sunday for not returning Rs.5,000

Updated - November 17, 2021 12:11 am IST

Published - January 11, 2012 03:45 am IST - Chincholi Sindphana (Maharashtra)

A day after 32-year-old Dalit sugarcane labourer Shahadev Tayad died of burns, the accused Vashisht Dhake who allegedly burnt him was held by the police on Monday, but the Tayad's family's efforts to come to terms with the loss have just begun.

According to the police, Dhake burnt Tayad on Sunday for not returning Rs.5,000 at his residence in Chincholi Sindphana village in Beed's Georai taluka. An offence under Section 302 of the IPC had been registered against Dhake, and the police will also consider booking him under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, police said.

Tayad lived with his wife, four children aged between one and seven, parents, a widowed sister and her three children. With his loss, the number of earning hands in the family is reduced to two: his sister and wife.

With a population of barely 500, the village is home to a majority of Maratha landowners and a handful of landless Dalit families like that of Shahadev Tayad. Dhake belongs to the Maratha clan. Narrating the incident, Mhasa Tayad states that while his son was being beaten and burnt, nobody came to his rescue. “Everyone just stood and watched the tamasha [show]. I saw Dhake pour kerosene on him, and I ran and wrapped him in a blanket and tried to douse the fire,” he says. “We had no enemies. We still don't. But we just hope that Vashisht Dhake suffers what we are suffering now.”

Dhake, who allegedly burnt Shahadev Tayad to death, was arrested by the Beed police on Monday night. Georai Deputy SP Jyoti Khirsagar told The Hindu on Tuesday that the police were on the lookout for Dhake, after Shahadev Tayad named him in his dying declaration. Tayad, who had suffered 93 per cent burns, died on Monday afternoon. Dhake was arrested from Latur on Monday night where he had been hiding. “Prima facie, according to the dying declaration and the Panchnama made at the spot, we are naming Dhake as the prime accused. The rest of the details will be made clear after interrogation,” Ms. Khirsagar said. Dhake will be produced in a local court on Wednesday, where the police will be asking for the custody.

According to Mhasa, Dhake threatened to kill Shahadev twice before and had beaten him up on two occasions last month “When I told him that we would file a police complaint, he threatened to kill me as well,” he says. Approaching the police is what the family repents now.

Shahadev Tayad was perhaps like one of the many labourers in the region: landless, uneducated and bonded year after year. Everyone in the Tayad household works as a labourer. Shahadev's wife Vandana works as a sugarcane labourer and was away in Sangli at the time of the incident. She too has borrowed Rs. 50,000, pledging labour for six months in return. The family stated that it has not got any work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS). “For six months we work in the sugarcane fields, and for the rest of the six months we work as farm labour in Beed, earning Rs.70 a day,” Mhasa states. “The family only manages to save Rs.10,000 for the year's food and other supplies, “Shahadev's sister Rukmini says.

“I now fear for the lives of my children. What am I going to do with all four of them,” 30-year-old Vandana asks with a blank look, unable to come to terms with reality. Sitting beside her, her only daughter Kalindi is telling her younger brother that father has gone out of town and will be returning soon.

Visiting the family, Additional District Collector Shivanand Taksale is surprised that the family does not qualify to be Below Poverty Line (BPL). “If they don't, then who does,” he asks. “We have issued a compensation of Rs.1.5 lakh [under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989], and we will try and give them as much as help as possible under the government schemes,” Mr. Taksale told The Hindu outside the Tayad residence. He stated that as a victim of the Atrocity Act, the family could be given a house. “Under the Sanjay Gandhi National Social Assistance programme, the widow can be given Rs.600 per month. The family can also be considered for the Aam Admi Bima Yojana (covering death in rural landless households), and be given Rs.75,000 in compensation,” he stated.

Asked about the government schemes that could have perhaps helped Shahadev Tayad live, Mr. Taksale said, “We have all the schemes in place. The implementation needs to be worked out. By next year, Beed will be migration free. We are doing our best to encourage workers in the MGNREGS. This year, Rs.26 crore has been spent on the implementation of the MNREGS in Beed alone.”

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