Thursday, January 12, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Dalit sugarcane worker burnt to death, one held

Chincholi Sindphana (Maharashtra), January 11, 2012
Dalit sugarcane worker burnt to death, one held
Amruta Byatnal

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

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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