Alleged constant humiliation by some upper caste people forced a Dalit family in Paltupuri village under Hastinapur police station to attempt ending their lives, leading to the death of one, while two are battling for life at a private hospital in Meerut.
The police said they were not approached but the victims’ relatives alleged that the family had lost faith in the local police after their previous complaint bore no fruit. This time, the daughter had dialled the 1090 number of the U.P. Police but did not get any help. Humiliated and threatened, Satyapal Singh* consumed poison with his wife, Shivrani, 50, and daughter Rita. Shivrani died, while Satyapal and Rita are in a “critical condition”.
“They are not on ventilator support but their blood pressure continues to be low,” said Dr. Rahul Kathuriya of Sushila Jaswantrai Hospital in Meerut.
When The Hindu visited Paltupuri, around 40 km from Meerut, on Friday, Sher Singh, elder brother of Satyapal, said that on April 15, Shivrani was walking down a lane when she was hit by the bike of one of the boys of the Kashyap family, part of the dominant group in the village. The Kashyaps are dhimars who come under the OBC category. “She retaliated, which led to an attack by the Kashyaps. They abused her with casteist slurs and tried to molest her. When my brother intervened, he was beaten up. The attackers threatened to kill his son Rohan.”
Sher Singh alleged that his brother’s family was facing repeated harassment at the hands of the Kashyaps because Satyapal was a graduate in agriculture and his children were “doing well academically” — Rita, 22, studies B.Sc. at Delhi University and Rohan, 20, is a BCA student. The brother-sister duo were also taunted and harassed, said Sher Singh. “The latest was when Rita visited the village to cast her vote. Being of modest physique, Rohan could not take them on.”
Rohan told The Hindu that in 2016 there was an attempt to molest his sister. “She was being stalked by Ravi [the main accused] for the last four years. When we complained, the accused’s family colluded with the police and faked injuries. They made a case against us. We were left with no choice but to compromise at the behest of the local Nagar Palika chairman.”
No help from kin
In the latest case, Rohan said, his father approached a court in Meerut directly under Section 156/3 of CrPC on April 16. “When he told his brothers and other family members about his decision, they refused to stand by him. He was left with no choice. We are educated, we could not stoop to their level. My father called my sister home from Delhi. On April 17, they consumed poison when I went out to take an exam in Mawana.”
Sher Singh admitted that they had developed cold feet. “We told Satyapal that he could shift out of the village as his children were well-educated but we had to live with them [Kashyaps]. He went into a shell after that.”
The police have registered an FIR against eight accused under Sections 147, 323, 452, 354, 352, 306 of the IPC and Section 3(2)5 of SC/ST Act.
Five accused held
“Five of the eight accused, including Ravi, have been nabbed. The rest would be arrested soon,” said Avinash Pandey, SP (Rural), Meerut. “I don’t know about the past, but had the local police been approached this time we would have taken action,” he said.
Mr. Pandey said the District Magistrate has initiated action against the village chowkidar. “I have sought a report from Circle Officer, Mawana, about the previous complaints. 100 number was not dialled. The daughter dialled the Women Power Line 1090, where the process is graded. First, a warning is sent to the accused. We will spread awareness that in serious cases, people should call 100 or CUG (Closed User Group) numbers of police officers. The girl has recorded her statement with the SDM. We are providing security to the family,” he said.
The male members of the accused’s family have left the village and the female members are avoiding the media.
(*All names have been changed in the copy.)
Suicide prevention helpline: Sanjivini, Society for Mental Health, 011-4076 9002, Monday-Saturday (10 a.m.-7.30 p.m.)