Monday, February 20, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Lathore inferno Dalit victims still homeless

Lathore inferno Dalit victims still homeless
TNN Feb 19, 2012, 08.00AM IST

BALANGIR: Around 218 Dalits are living in a temporary shelter in a
school even a month after upper caste people torched their houses and
looted their belongings in Lathore in Balangir district.

Although the district administration had promised to reconstruct the
houses in a meeting with members of Lakhe Ghara Ganda Samaj Unnayana
Samiti of the Dalit community, there has been no headway. "Initially
the administration was reluctant to construct the houses. It only
wanted to give compensation. But after we organized a rally and placed
our demands in a memorandum, the collector invited us for a
discussion, where he agreed to construct the houses. But sadly, it is
yet to begin," said Omprakash Kumbhar, president of the outfit.

On January 23, upper caste people had torched 30 houses of the Dalits
in Lathore after which 250 men, women and children were shifted to the
temporary shelter. Police subsequently arrested 42 persons and sent
them to judicial custody. Property worth about Rs 2.5 crore was
reportedly damaged in the riot. "We know that we won't get the
valuables we lost when our houses were burnt down. We have lost
important documents, ornaments and land records. But at least we
should be provided with houses to live in. For how many days will we
live in the school," said Jitendra Suna, one of the victims of the

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to Odisha
government, calling for a report on the incident within four weeks.
Earlier, a team of Jawahala Neheru University (JNU) students visited
Lathore to sympathize with the victims and also met the district

A few days ago, Dalits of the district and Lathore victims organized a
rally and walked through the main road in Balangir town, holding
placards and raising slogans. They demanded action against the erring
police officials, who allegedly overlooked the warnings of the upper
caste people a day before the incident. They also demanded Balangir
district to be declared SC-ST atrocity prone.

The Lakhe Ghara Ganda Samaj Unnayana Samiti outfit had given a fact
sheet to the district administration mentioning incidences arising out
of caste antagonism in the district. It said in the last two years 12
such incidents have taken place in the district. According to the
outfit, the atrocity prone villages are Lakarma, Belpada, Jamsar,
Pardhiapali, Kalijharan, Bandhpada, Gaibahal, Uparbahal, Bubel and
Ambahali. "In each incident, either false allegations were slapped on
lower caste people or the upper caste people openly expressed
untouchability by speaking insulting words," said the outfit's
secretary Sitaram Kumbhar.

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