Dankaur incident: Fact Finding Report
The Fact Finding team of NDMJ-NCDHR condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent incident of atrocity and public indignity concerning a Dalit family in Dankaur, Uttar Pradesh. The Fact finding team visited the place of incident on 10th October 2015 and met the relatives of the victims (who are in remand now), police officials and shop-owners in Dankaur Market. We also met around 50 members of victim's community to understand the facts of the case.
Members of the Fact Finding Team : Kamal Kispotta, Keshav Jaliya, Vineet Jingala, Nidhin Shobhana, Bhanu Pratap Singh (UP).
1. Media reports have reduced the issue, quite viciously, to the question of 'who stripped whom'. Such reduction has distorted the issue at multiple levels:
• It completely displaced the fact that a Dalit family was publicly humiliated by the police machinery, in the midst of an indifferent crowd.
• A forged case of public obscenity has been charged against Sunil Gautam's family.
• The family has been booked (2men, 3 women, 3 children aged between 7 months to 2 years) under IPC sections 504, 341, 175, 148, 323, 332, 335, 394, 307, 324, 294 and 7 Criminal Law Amendment Act 1932.
• These sections have been invoked in two FIRs (FIR No 556/15 and 557/15). While FIR no.556/15 was registered by the police, FIR 557/15 was registered by few shopkeepers influenced by the police.
• None of the sections invoked are relevant to the incident. In fact these sections were deliberately used to criminalize the family. The invoked sections cover a wide range of crimes such a rioting with dangerous, deadly weapons; hurt caused during robbery; attempt to murder so on and so forth.
• The media reports and the false complaint lodged against the family has overshadowed the fact that the family was robbed and dispossessed. The dominant caste Gujjars in the area had grabbed their land.
• The family was staging a peaceful democratic protest in front of their rented shop against police laxity in filing their complaint and taking necessary actions against the accused.
• Presently the Dalit family is in Surajkund Jail and their relatives are trying for their bail.
2. On the basis of our interaction with Sunil Gautam's family members, villagers and shopkeepers in Dhankaur Market, we can convincingly point out that Sunil was an extremely assertive Dalit. He was well versed with legal channels of redress and had complete faith in the justice delivery system. He often approach police officials with complaints and held them accountable for their inaction. His strong sense of justice made Sunil a 'nuisance' for the police. They branded him a lunatic, who should not be taken 'seriously'. Such attitudes of the police were even vocalized by the Station Officer in many of his media statements.
3. On 6th October 2015, Sunil Gautam submitted a written complaint to Station Officer, Praveen Kumar Yadav, Dankaur Police Station. The complaint clearly described a case of caste-based insult, threat and loot against three unidentified armed individuals. On 5th October 2015, Sunil along with his brother Sohanpal Gautam were working on their land situated behind Dronacharya Degree College, Dankaur. These unidentified armed men threatened the brothers and dispossessed them of Rs.850/-, two mobile phones and Hero Honda Splendor Bike. The accused warned them with dire consequences if they enter their land again. As the accused were leaving the scene, they mentioned the name of one Mr. Mahavir, S/o Dharmpal. Sunil strongly argues that Mahavir, who belongs to the dominant Gurjar community, had sent these men. Further the complaint mentions that Gurjar community for years have looted their crops and caused them great tribulations. Sunil has made police complaints against Mahavir on prior occasions as well (December 2014). Sunil narrates that Mahavir abuses them with caste names (Chamar, Dhedha etc.) every day. He categorically mentions that Mahavir and his relatives are a threat to his life and property. However, the police did not file this complaint nor did it take any action against the accused.
4. The family visited the police station on 6th October with their complaint. However, police asked them to come the next day. They again approached the police station with their complaint on 7th October but the attitude of the police remained the same. In fact the SHO retorted that 'Tum Chamar, Mayawati ke chadaye huye ghumrahe ho!' (You Chamars are acting too smart because of Mayawati!) Thus the family decided to stage a protest in front of their rented shop at Dankaur Market. If staging a protest is public nuisance and obscenity, most of what we recognize as anti-caste movement is 'obscene' for they were historically staged in marketplaces, roads, factories and other places of 'public' utility.
5. The Sub Divisional Magistrate of Dankaur was passing by the main market road on 7th October as a part of Swach Bharat Abhiyan. The Dalit family wanted SDM to take note of their protest and listen to their grievance. However, the SDM, being warned of the protesting Dalit family took a different route.
6. The family which comprised of Sunil, his brother Sohanpal, their wives Harwati and Reeta, Sunil's younger brother's wife Babita along with the Sunil and Sudesh's children (all of them within the age group of 6months – 3years )continued their peaceful protest. In no time, the Station Officer, approached the family in civilian dress and started manhandling and beating them mercilessly. It is important to note that such physical abuse came without any warning or provocation. Without leaving any space for dialogue, Praveen Kumar Yadav verbally and physically abused the family. The family stripped itself in protest, as a response to the physical torture of the police. The family was dragged into a police van and taken to the station, naked. There were no women police personnel present during the entire incident.
7. Police has been consistently trying to dub Sunil and his family as lunatics who engaged in public obscenity.
8. A few of the shop-owners pointed out that police officials have been accompanying media personnel to influence the reportage on the incident in their favor.
9. The members of this fact finding team directly witnessed police officials indulging in malicious rumours about Sunil and his family. One of the officials, Mr. Tomar, claimed that Sunil's village has decided to ex-communicate him after this incident. However, it was only after our visit to the village that we realized that all the villagers are unanimously supporting Sunil Gautam and his family.
10. Sunil Gautam's family residing in Atta Gujaran Village continues to live in fear and insecurity.
(a) Immediate unconditional release of Sunil Gautam, Sohanpal Gautam, Harwati, Reeta, Babita and their three children.
(b) We demand that an independent judicial enquiry committee should be constituted to look into the matter and give detailed recommendations.
(c) SHO Praveen Kumar Yadav and SDM Mukesh Siddharth should be immediately booked under Section 4 of SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 for willful negligence.
(d) The concerned police officials should be booked under Section 3 (1) (iii), 3(1)(viii), 3(1)(ix), 3(1)(x), 3(1)(xi), of SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
(e) An FIR should be registered as per Sunil Gautam's complaint dated 06-10-2105. Necessary actions should be taken against the accused, Mahavir, as per SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
(f) Sunil Gautam and his family should be compensated as per SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
(g) Uttar Pradesh Government should ensure the protection and safety of the affected families.