“There used to be more than 250 Dalit families in the village before 2010. But now, only 40 are left. No one is there to support us and we are always living in fear,” says Tejpal Chauhan, a 27-year-old Dalit daily wager, who was injured in the recent caste conflict in Mirchpur village in Haryana’s Hisar district.

Mirchpur village in Haryana has once come under the spotlight after nine Dalits were injured in an alleged attack by a group of upper caste men.

The incident happened on Monday in the village during a cycle show when some persons present there allegedly passed a caste-related comment on a Dalit boy named Shiv Kumar Chauhan after he won the race. They allegedly continued taunting him even after he expressed his displeasure.  Shiv Kumar then called some people from his caste for help. However, they were overpowered by the upper castes who had by then gathered in large numbers. Soon, it erupted into a full blown fight in which nine Dalits got injured.

b’A representational image | Source: PTI’

“The upper caste boys are jealous of him (Shiv Kumar) because he is a very good athlete and always wins prizes,” Tejpal said, adding that he himself has been a victim of caste-based harassment several times.

Mirchpur’s history of caste-based violence 

Post the incident, the 40 Dalit families living in the village claim that they are now reliving the 2010 horror in which members of the dominant Jat community set 18 homes on fire, killing two. Out of the total 97 accused, 15 people got convicted and 82 were later released. The government then deployed a CRPF team in the village to maintain law and order. In December 2016, the CRPF troops were withdrawn.

On Tuesday, the 40 Dalit families fled from their homes and left for Hisar. However, after the intervention of Haryana’s Minister for Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes Welfare Krishan Bedi, members of Scheduled Castes Commission and senior police officials, they were convinced to head back to their homes.

b’SC Commission members interact with the villagers of Mirchpur where dalits were reportedly assaulted, in Hisar on Wednesday | Source: PTI’

The authorities now say that everything has ‘normalised’ and the matter has been sorted in the village panchayat. As of now, 15 FIRs have been filed and four accused have been arrested.

“It was just a fight between two groups of youngsters and was not a caste conflict as it is being said in the media,” Rajendra Kumar Meena, Superintendent of Police, Hisar told ScoopWhoop News.

“Everything is now settled. The situation is peaceful. As a precautionary measure, we have deployed adequate police force in the village,” he added. 

“The authorities don’t want the world to know what’s happening here!”

But advocate Rajat Kansal, the lawyer who is representing the case rubbishes the police’ claims. “They are obviously under the obligation to present a peaceful picture. They would never want the world to know that such incidents are happening under their watch,” he told ScoopWhoop News.

 “The incident is certainly an outcome of the 2010 Mirchpur massacre. The 82 accused who were released in that case are still nursing their grudges against Dalits. Many of the accused in the recent incident are repeat offenders,” he says.

Despite all the assurance by the authorities, Dalits who are in minority get no support from the upper castes of the village who are clearly in majority. Kansal says that the all-caste panchayat set up by the village serves no purpose. 

“The Sarv Jati Panchayats (all-caste panchayats) are nothing but an exercise to settle such serious incidents with a ‘compromise’. All this is done with an active support from the police officials,” he said.

b’A representational image | Source: AFP’

“It’s impossible to live here now!” 

Somnath Chauhan, a 19-year-old Class XII pass out, is one of the nine victims who is admitted to a hospital in Hisar with a head injury. He also has fractures in some parts of his body due to which it is difficult for him to lie down on his bed properly. But he is optimistic about the future of him and the 40 families.

“It has now become impossible to live in that village in ‘Jatland’. Despite it being close to two years after I completed my schooling, I am scared of joining the college in the village because it is full of people from the upper caste. But Minister Krishan Bedi has assured us that he will provide us land somewhere near Hisar so that we can rehabilitate. Else, we’ll be left to fend for ourselves again,” he said.  

(Feature image is representational: Source: PTI)