NATIONAL

Haryana orders probe

CHANDIGARH OCT. 18. The lynching of five Dalits by an angry mob in Jhajjar district of Haryana on Tuesday night has acquired political overtones with the Lok Janshakti Party chief, Ram Vilas Paswan, and the Congress leaders, Ahmed Patel, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Bhajan Lal, demanding a CBI enquiry into the episode and strict action against the district police. Interestingly, the Haryana Government, which kept mum for two days, ordered a commissioner-level inquiry today and announced compensation to the next of kin of those killed. The Chief Minister, Om Prakash Chautala, condemned the incident.

What has aggravated the situation is the "pressure" by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other organisations not to register cases or arrest those who took part in the frenzied killing. According to official sources, no arrests were made till this evening and the situation was described as tense but under control.

Additional reinforcements are camping in the district and a red alert has been sounded, according to the SP, Jhajjar, Mohd.Akil. Mr.Chautala, who directed the Divisional Commissioner of Rohtak, R.R. Bainswal, to conduct an inquiry and also announced a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed, indicated that the guilty would not be spared.

Kumari Selja, AICC secretary, and the local Congress MLA, Raghubir Singh Kadian, were among those who visited Dulina village where the incident occurred and condemned the police for allegedly remaining a mute spectator to the violence.

While a press note issued on behalf of the Chief Minister said that some culprits had been identified, sources in Jhajjar told this correspondent that the district authorities today held meetings with the villagers who are demanding action against the perpetrators of the "crime" that it was very difficult to identify them. Efforts were being made to nab the alleged killers, it was said.

Police have registered two cases — one against the victims under the Cow Slaughter (Prevention) Act and the other of murder against the mob.

Several versions of the incident are doing the rounds. One said the five Dalits had reportedly indulged in cow slaughter and were caught red-handed by the villagers while moving in a tempo carrying a slaughtered cow and cow skin.

Initially, the villagers handed over the suspects to police but later turned violent. They also blocked the Jhajjar Gurgaon Road and threw stones at the district and police officials before virtually capturing the Dulina police post and dragging out the suspects who had by then been brutally beaten.

However, other sources said that it could be a case of mistaken identity as was being pointed out by the relatives of the deceased that they were traders in animal skins.

It is also being said that the victims earned their living by selling animal skins.

According to highly-placed sources, police acted with great restraint. The district officials present on the spot were also injured when the mob threw stones.

Meanwhile, various political and apolitical organisations have condemned the incident. The state secretariat of the CPI(M) at Rohtak said the lynching was unfortunate and alleged that the conduct of the officials was irresponsible.

Parties dispute official version

Our New Delhi Special Correspondent reports:

The Left parties and the Lok Janshakti Party today disputed the official version of the Jhajjar incident that an irate mob had lynched five Dalits and said that the role of police was both "suspect and dubious". They also saw the hand of Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists in exploiting the situation.

Delegations of the Lok Janshakti party led by the former Union Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, and another of the Left parties which visited the site and met families of the victims, have demanded the arrest of the guilty, a thorough probe and compensation to the next of kin of those killed.

They alleged that contrary to reports, police had demanded some consideration from the five Dalits — Dayachand, Virendra, Tota Ram, Raju and Kailash — as they were carrying hides. They were thrashed when they refused to pay.

Mr. Paswan questioned the police report that the five were involved in "skinning a cow", which triggered the violence.

"The charge made on the basis of past experience by the family members of those killed that it was the police personnel present who first beat the Dalits, because they refused to pay the police required consideration," preliminary finding of the delegation of Left parties said.

The Left delegation said the police version raised many questions.

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