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Gohana Atrocity: Caste Terror in Haryana

[A fact-finding team of the Forum for Democratic Initiatives* visited Gohana on 4th September 2005 to enquire into the gruesome torching of houses belonging to the Balmiki community on the day of 1st September 2005. The team met the victims and their relatives; local college lecturers and primary school teachers who were conducting a survey to assess the amount of loss; shopkeepers close to the site of the incident and other citizens of the town.]

Recalling Gujarat

While the Balmiki population in Gohana town is primarily concentrated in the Balmiki basti, which lies in the heart of the town, there are a few Balmiki households in mixed settlements too. Contrary to the callous statement of the local BJP MP Kishen Singh Sangwan that only a few hutments had been torched, we discovered that in fact over 60 pucca houses had been completely destroyed; houses that escaped arson had been ransacked and looted. As we walked through the Balmiki Basti, we saw house after house with their roofs caved in, large cracks in the walls, burnt motorcycles and scooters. Television sets had been smashed, cupboards and almirahs broken into, annual stores of grains reduced to cinder, tin trunks commonly used to store everything from steel utensils and jewellery to quilts had their lids propped up by bamboo poles in order to ensure that all valuables perished in the fire.

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Dalit Houses Burnt Down at Gohana in Haryana

(First published in September 2005)

A Preliminary Fact Finding Report

By

N. Paul Divakar, National Convenor, NCDHR, Dr. Vimal Thorat, National Co-Convenor, NCDHR, Ms. Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD, Dr. Umakant, Secretary-Advocacy, NCDHR And Others

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Dalit Houses Burnt Down at Gohana in Haryana

Gohana is a small Tehsil, a local administrative unit, in Sonepat District in the State of Haryana. It is situated about 60 kilometers away from the National Capital, New Delhi. It witnessed a caste rivalry between Dalits and the dominant caste 'Jats', culminating into mass exodus of Dalits and finally burning down of about 55 to 60 Dalit houses with full support of local Police from 27 August 2005 upto 31 August 2005. A violent mob of about 1500 to 2000 Jats armed with spears, batons, petrol and kerosene oil went on a maddening spree burning down hoses belonging to a particular Dalit caste 'Balmikis', who are other wise called 'Bhangis', the manual scavengers.

This is a preliminary report as full report after assessing the damages would be prepared very soon.

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Mirchpur Carnage Against Dalits

Fact-Finding Report Of Mirchpur Carnage Against Dalits On 21 April 2010

That the Hindus most often succeed in pulling down Untouchables is largely due to many causes. The Hindu has the Police and the Magistracy on his side. In a quarrel between the Untouchables and the Hindus the Untouchables will never get protection from the Police or justice from the Magistrate. The Police and the Magistracy are Hindus, and they love their class more than their duty. But the chief weapon in the armoury of the Hindus is economic power they possess over the poor Untouchables living in the village. 

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in 1943.

On 24 April 2010, the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) – and Anhad facilitated a fact-finding visit to Mirchpur in Haryana's Hisar district where 17-year-old girl Suman and her 60-year-old father Tara Chand were burnt alive on 21 April by a Jat mob from the village that also set fire to and looted 18 Balmiki houses and looted 18 houses.

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Lynching of Dalits at Jhajjar, Haryana- 2

Report of the Left parties delegation to Duleena, Jhajjar district, Haryana on October 17, 2002, in protest against Dalit lynching atrocity.

Following the report of the killings of five dalits, namely Sri Dayachand, Sri Virendra, Sri Tota Ram, Sri Raju and Sri Kailash between 9 and 10pm on October 15, in the police chowki of Duleena in the district of Jhajjar, Haryana a joint delegation of the CPI(M) and the CPI visited the affected area on October 17 along with leaders of the All India Democratic Women's Association to express solidarity with the victims and to register its strong protest and condemnation of the ghastly crime.

It was the first delegation that visited the families. Shockingly, other political parties in Haryana have preferred to remain silent on the crime. The members of the delegation were Inderjeet Singh and Raghbir Singh Choudhary (Haryana State Secretaries of the CPI(M) and CPI respectively) Brinda Karat (Central Committee member CPI_M and G.Secy of the AIDWA) Dr. Harnam Singh (former MLA-CPI) Jagmati Sangwan, (President, AIDWA Haryana), Balbir Dahiya and Ram Chandra (CPI-M). The delegation visited the site of the killings and met the Superintendent of Police Md. Aqil, his deputy Narendra Singh, the SHO Rajendra Singh and other police personnel. The Deputy Commissioner Mahendra Singh was in Bahadurgarh and therefore unavailable to meet the delegation. The delegation met the family members of two of those killed, Dayachand and Virendra, in the village of Badshahpur and also a large number of people in the village. The delegation also attended a meeting of the residents in the village chaupal.

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What happened on the evening of 15 October 2002?

(An excerpt from 'Dalit Lynching at Dulina: Cow - Protection, Caste and Communalism', a report on the lynching of Dalits in Jhajjar, Haryana, published by People's Union for Democratic Rights in February 2003)

The accounts of the incident narrated by the family and the police varied from each other on significant points.

According to the families of the victims, the 5 men left Badshahpur village at 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 15 October 2002 by a hired Tata 407 truck. On board were - the driver Totaram, of Aklimpur village (belonging to the Julaha caste); Raju, the 'helper', of Tikli village (Balmiki); Kailash from Karnal (Balmiki); in addition to Dayachand and Virender of Badshahpur village (Jatavs who had the official contract to skin cattle in this area). Kailash, the leather trader from Karnal had come to Badshahpur to purchase raw hides from Virender and Dayachand. The 5 men were transporting the hides to Karnal to be sold the next day in the 'mandi' held there every Wednesday.

According to the DSP Jhajjar Narender Singh the victims were transporting 238 hides to Karnal. They apparently reached the Dulina police post on Gurgaon-Jhajjar road at about 6 p.m. They stopped at a deserted spot near it to skin a dead cow, as they would be able to sell the hide for Rs. 1500 at the mandi. About 15-20 people were returning from Dussehra celebrations in Jhajjar town by jeep, along the same road. They saw the men skinning the cow and assumed that they had first killed it. They started abusing the 5 men and then took them to the nearby Dulina police post. They put pressure on the police officer in-charge, SHO Hoshiar Singh to book them under the Act against cow slaughter. An FIR was filed against the victims accusing them of gaukashi (cow-slaughter). The FIR was registered on behalf of the police as the accusers allegedly refused to put their names to the complaint.

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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.

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Four Deaths and five arrests-- an elopement in Talao village

An excerpt from 'Courting Disaster: A Report on Inter-Caste Marriages, Society and State', a People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) report published in August 2003.

Talao in Jhajjar district of Haryana retains the appearance of a village despite being situated only three kilometers from the district headquarters. The village has a population of about 4000, with 600 households of which 150 are dalit including 70 families of jatavs (chamars), 30 of balmikis (churhas), 15 each of lohars, nais and dhanaks, besides 300 jat households. Jhajjar is a reserved Assembly constituency and. the present sarpanch, Vijay, belongs to the dhanak caste. The various castes are not clearly segregated spatially into distinctive panas or settlements within the village. Except for a low-lying neglected pana inhabited solely by dalits, houses of jats and dalits are situated adjacent on the same street. Yet the dominance of the jats is amply visible in day-to-day life. A dalit activist who runs a small tailoring shop in the village, attempted to use funds available with the local administration for developmental work in the dalit pana. This was strongly resented and prevented by the jats. Some change is however visible in the economic status of members of different dalit castes. Upward mobility among the jatavs is evident in their pucca houses, some of which at least look as prosperous as the jat households. Some run small shops in the village, others have made use of reservations to secure government jobs, while still others are employed in the army. Many among those working outside still continue to reside in the village and remain vulnerable to the power of the dominant caste.

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