Lynching of Dalits at Jhajjar, Haryana- 1

(Published in January 2003 in the PUCL Bulletin)

A Report by Academics

On hearing the reports of lynching of five dalits by a frenzied mob at police chowkie of Duleena near Jhajjar on Dussehra day, a group of University teachers, writers from Janvadi Lekhak Sangh and social activists visited Badshahpur on 20th November to meet the members of the bereaved families to share their grief. On hearing the details which emerged after talking to the members of the bereaved families and others present there, the group decided to visit the spot of the shocking incident to meet persons who could provide information on the ghastly event. The group visited the Duleena police chowkie, talked to the police officials, residents of some farm houses around, some press reporters, and other citizens present on the spot.

The group's assessment of the situation is as follows:

Flaws and weaknesses in the police version

The police version that these five dalits were killed by an uncontrollable mob of several thousand people from adjoining villages and the city on the suspicion of a cow having been slaughtered by them contains several flaws listed below:

1. The police chowkie is situated in a deserted place at a distance of about 7 Kms. from Jhajjar and the possibility of a large crowd assembling spontaneously there is very low.

2. The dalits were carrying animal hides in a tempo and it is unthinkable that they would skin a dead cow near the police chowkie at the time of sun set when they had to go a long distance to reach Karnal. It is unthinkable that they would stop for adding one raw skin to the tempo full of hides worth rupees 40000/- to be sold at Karnal. Treating and drying animal skin takes far more time than they had at their disposal.

3. The police version that a dead cow was purchased at Farukh Nagar, which was skinned near the police chowkie is incredible as a dead cow could not be carried in a tempo already loaded with hides to its capacity.

4. There was no mention in the police version of having recovered the instruments required for skinning from the dalits concerned.

5. The police version of a crowd of several thousand persons was contradicted by some persons who were present on the spot. Their estimate of gathering varies from 50 at initial stage to a maximum of about 400 at the later stage around 10 P.M. when lynching took place.

6. The group did not find any evidence of a large rampaging and uncontrollable mob having left any serious damage caused to the chowkie. So much so that a few flowerbeds in front of the small chowkie were intact and not a single flower plant was damaged. No door was broken, nor did walls carry any sign of damage caused by the mob. Only the iron grills of the windows of the room where dalits were detained were twisted a little which the group feels could have been done latter as the members of the families of the victim did not see any such thing when they had come to claim the dead bodies the very next day.

As per the version given by the members of the aggrieved families and several other persons, it is common practice of the police at Duleena chowkie to extort money from the licensed skin traders carrying hides passing by that road and they feel that police tortured them on not getting the amount of money demanded by them and as a consequence one of them was hit on a vital part and died. They suspect the police hand in spreading the rumour of a cow slaughter as a cover up. The poor dalits were quietly handed over to the infuriated crowd armed with irons bars, etc., which had gathered at the chowkie on hearing the rumour. This version cannot be dismissed off hand without a probe.

Even if the police version is correct, the conduct of the police is shocking beyond belief. They took no steps like lathi charge, using tear gas, or firing in the air to protect the dalits in their custody. The lynching took place when there were more than 100 police persons drawn from Jhajjar police lines and adjoining police stations alongwith DSP, SHO Sadar, Jhajjar and three executive magistrates - the City Magistrate, the BDO, and Naib Tehsildar. It is not an ordinary case of dereliction of duty but a total abdication of it, treating the life of detained dalits as dirt cheap. The police force and other officers present on the spot deserve stringent punishment.

A very disturbing aspect is the involvement of communal forces like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, etc., who have been continuously active in spreading the virus of communal hatred in the area. They often spread the false rumour of cow slaughter in order to inflame the sentiments of the people against Muslims of the adjoining area of Mewat. Even in this incident a rumour of cow slaughter was used to inflame the crowd. The crime was perpetrated by the frenzied mob armed with irons, rods, spears etc led by these communal forces who controlled the mob and directed their ire against the dalits. The intensity of the communal frenzy can be gauged by an attempt to erase the name of the SSP Jhajjar from the board at chowkie because the concerned officer happens to be a Muslim.

These communal forces had the audacity to take out a procession the next day in Jhajjar demanding that none should be arrested in the case.

This incident should be seen as a part of the larger design of the communal forces to inject hatred and irrationality in the minds of the common people against dalits, minorities, and other weaker sections in order to weaken the base of the democratic and secular values.

The group demands a high level CBI probe into the ghastly incident so that stringent punishment could be given to all the perpetrators of the crime. The group appeals to the public at large to realize the sinister implications of such incidents and come forward in active defence of dalits, minorities and women who are currently under attack from communal forces.

-- Prof. D. R. Chaudhry, Ex. Chairman, Haryana Public Service Commission; Prof. O.P. Grewal, Professor (Retd.) Deptt. of English, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra and Vice President, Janvadi Lekhak Sangh; Prof. Suraj Bhan, Professor (Retd.) Deptt of Ancient History, Culture, and Archaeology, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra.

[Courtesy: PUCL Bulletin, January 2003]