No let up in caste-bound tension in Odisha village
By Manoj Kar
Kendrapara, Feb. 25: Situation continues to remain surcharged in
strife-torn Rankala village even as panic-stricken Dalits fearing
further attack from upper caste have begun fleeing from the village.
A day after their noisy demonstration in front of the district
collectorate, the dalit settlers are plagued by palpable sense of
insecurity. Despite deployment of armed police, there are reports of
dalits fleeing the village.
Meanwhile, in a latest twist to the caste-bound violence, police have
arrested a man on charge of outraging the modesty of a dailt woman.
Yesterday, two dalit women lodged complaint with the local police that
they were sexually assaulted when the mob went on rampage attacking
the dalit settlements.
Two separate cases have been registered in connection with the alleged
rape charges. Both the victims were medically examined, said police.
"We have taken shelter in dalit-dominated Tunupur village. We are
feeling unsafe. After police arrested trouble makers from the upper
caste groups, there is every likelihood of retaliatory attack. We are
unable to repose faith on law enforcing agency. They are partisan and
tilting towards the upper caste groups. That's why, a large number of
people who resorted to violence are yet to be arrested. They are
roaming free in the village," according to a cross section of dalits.
The ransacked houses in the village, that was witness to bloody
caste-bound battle on 18 February, remind one of the scenes of
devastation of 1999 super-cyclone days.
At least 23 persons mostly dalit women were injured armed upper caste
groups had launched a murderous attack on their houses.
As upper caste groups resorted to dig earth from a government grazing
land in close proximity to dalits' place of inhabitation, the dalits
offered resistance and stopped the digging work. The upper caste who
were lifting the earth for construction work in the local lord
Hanumanjew temple were deeply enraged and attacked the other groups.
An armed mob comprising over 300 people from the group had barged into
dalits' settlement and had let loose vandalism spree. After beating up
the families, they targeted their houses and caused damage to 33
houses and household articles. The incident had occurred when the male
members of the victimized families were away from their homes as most
of them were daily wagers.
Till date, ten persons involved in the violent attack have been taken
into custody. A platoon of armed police is still camped in the
troubled village as a precautionary measure. Situation is fast
returning to normality in the affected village, said Kendrapara
Superintendent of Police, Narasingha Bhol.
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