Saturday, May 8, 2010

[ZESTCaste] 2 weeks on, dalits of Mirchpur fear going back home

2 weeks on, dalits of Mirchpur fear going back home
Nandita Sengupta, TNN, May 8, 2010, 03.34am IST

MIRCHPUR: Two weeks since the arson that killed two and destroyed 18
houses, fear stalks dalits in this village in Haryana's Hisar
district, chasing them out, abandoning their homes. The majority has

Some are camping at the deputy commissioner's office at Hisar
demanding a separate rehabilitation colony away from Jat supremacy, a
handful of oldies stays put in their burnt-down quarters.

A truck loaded with household goods readies to move out of the
village. Anywhere but here, says Krishna, in her 50s, her
weather-beaten face set in despair. "I don't want to leave my home, we
built it after so much hardship," she says. Her husband barks out to
her to simply shut up and get going, refusing to divulge their

The fear is palpable in the quiet around the dalit sections, snorting
pigs the only sound. "Kyun hamare sath hi aisa hota hai baar baar?"
asks a young man, holding up the remains of a TV set. Immediately
after the incident, every young woman and child was packed off. "It
was the first thing ensured," says Sunil Pal Valmiki, of Bharatiya
Dalit Jan Mahasabha. If there were further attacks, women would bear
the brunt is the collective wisdom. In an incident three years ago,
five dalits were paraded naked.

No government representative has come to tell the attacked community
how things can unfold. Even in Hisar's deputy commissioner's office,
where a group of about 100 have staged a protest under limp banners,
it's been silence from the authorities.

Interestingly, while the nation awaits some semblance of justice for
the attacked and penalty for the attackers, the reality unfolds on
somewhat different lines. Things apparently wouldn't have spiraled
into a big hullabaloo had Rahul Gandhi not visited. He 'complicated'
matters. It 'spoilt the case,' says Pal. "Ab tak thanda hojata. Ab
aage nikal gaya." The general view is that caste atrocity is almost a
ritual. Attack, compensate, make-peace only to ensure the arrested are

Gandhi's visit 'worsened' meant some heads had to roll. "Had the khap
sympathized with the dalits the very day of the attack, the agitation
wouldn't have taken place. Agitation karne mein to ye sabse aage hai,"
says Pal. "Peace," he says, is the only way ahead.

Currently, a list of 105 names of Jats who formed the mob has been
sent to the authorities. The khap panchayat has extended an olive
branch — "their focus now is to ensure freedom of the arrested and
cancellation of the 105 names," says Pal. That seems to be the main

The dalits have several advisors, a layer of activists pulling at
them. One lot tells Hisar's camping families to return, "They're
dependent on Jats. If they go into a separate colony, they'll be
sitting ducks," says Pal. But the activists want no compensation.
"Jitna dalit garibi se free ho rahe hain, utna gaali galoj maar peeth
hota rehta hai," says Sudesh Kumari, of Jan Sangharsh Samiti.

The protesting dalits have reached the point of 'Enough', they say.
"Jat ke paas power hai. Paisa, population, rajniti. But we too have a
power. The power of bhookh, garibi, aur vote dalne ka power," says
Virendra Rana, 26, as he squats next to Kamla Devi.

But with each passing day, the voices are falling silent, belying the
hectic negotiations going on between Jat panchayats, the
administration and dalits too: activists turned mediators.

The administration on its part is mute spectator. Ask deputy
commissioner O P Sheoran, also a Jat, and he'll rattle off a list of
'compensation': money, jobs, quintals of wheat and other materials.
What more can dalits want? What about justice and rehabilitation?
"That's a policy decision, what can I say?" smiles Sheoran.


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