Jhajjar: Hindu Terrorism Against Dalits

Phir Bhi, Mera Banana Republic Mahaan!

©Lucio Mascarenhas. 24th October 2002.

A new atrocity on the Dalits, this time in Jhajjar, Haryana, a short distance from the Indian Union's capital. So: What's new? The juggernaut of Hindu revivalism, and all its attendant evils and atrocities against the Dalits and minorities, rolls on, unhindered by the Union government and the opposition parties, who in fact, not too shyly, encourage, participate and justify it. So roll on it does, bulldozing the already dreary mindscape of modern India into an even more sterile, barren wasteland, the Ramarajya of fond expectations. Every time governments mock us and our outrage by turning a Nelson's eye to the going-ons. "Wrong-doing? Where is the wrongdoing?" They ask in surprise. What makes things worse is that not only are the police lumpen, but that they have thrown off all pretense of neutrality and have become active and enthusiastic participants in this program of subversion.

Governments and authorities react to urban outrage by claiming helplessness. Whyever should they be helpless? Whatever happened to draconian anti-terrorism laws such as COFEPOSA, MISA, TADA, and now POTA? Are they put on the statue-books only to be used to browbeat and terrorise dissidents?

The British bequeathed us some marvelous, tough laws. For one thing, when a crime was committed in a village, and there was sufficient evidence that the entire village (or hamlet) participated, in some degree or the other, they simply punished the entire community by fining them heavily and confiscating properties. Free India disclaims such laws, saying that they are too barbaric. Well, how are they different from the system of imposing sanctions - diplomatic, economic, military, etc., on entire countries? Did not the Indian Union take the lead, even initiate the campaign against South Africa during the Apartheid Dispensation? Did not the Indian Union impose a blockade on Portuguese India?

Another admirable British legislation is the Assize Laws: A district that has lapsed into near anarchy is handed over to the military and the paramilitaries, and the meting out of summary, immediate justice then brought back the people from barbarism.

But what is needed now, more than communal sanctions and assizes, is a body similar to the Military Police be established over the civil police. In the Bombay Pogroms of 1992-93, the city police actively participated, even initiated the crimes. Then, when the Judicial Inquiry began, they stonewalled it by claiming lost files and evidence and missing and untraceable accused. One such 'missing and untraceable accused' in those Pogroms has now made it to the hallowed seat of the Parliament's Speaker, with the active aid and assistance of the 'clean' Congress Party of Mrs. Sonia Maino-Gandhi. The principle must be applied, that when the police have a person or evidence in their custody, if the person or evidence goes missing, then it must be presumed that the police murdered the person and the dissappearance of evidence must be presumed to be incontrovertible evidence that the police personnel themselves are the perpetrators of the crimes which these evidences evidenced, and treated accordingly. Tough, but it will put the fear of God into these uniformed criminals. There is no other way.

To address the Jhajjar murders: Arrest all the police and civic personnel present at the incident under the anti-terrorist acts, as also the temple, VHP and Shiv Sena personnel, etc. Fine all the 'upper caste' inhabitants of the entire region ruinously, confiscate and demolish the temple and the homes of the main and also of the socially prominient perpetrators, seize their offspring and put them into orphanages, etc. Has either the provincial or federal government got the guts?

"Justice must not only be done; it must also be seen to be done."

Lucio J. Mascarenhas - 7:21 PM 10/24/2002
Below are some of the news reports, as they came in. I have edited the text at some places.

How A Rumour Killed Five Dalits

Lynched while skinning dead cow for hide

Sonu Jain, Jhajjar, Haryana, 17th Oct., 2002, the Indian Express, Bombay Edition.
Less than two hours from the capital, this was the scene outside the Dulena police post in Jhajjar district on Wednesday: patches of blood on the road, a pile of smouldering ashes. This is where five Dalits, all in their twenties, were beaten to death on Tuesday night, two of them torched. They weredoing what they have been doing for years: skinning dead cows to sell the hide. This time, however, "someone" spread the word that the cow was alive.

So a mob, returning after the Dussehra fair, dragged them out of the police post where they had taken refuge and lynched them to the cries of Gau mata ki jai! (Long live the Cow Goddess.) Watched by the City Magistrate, the District Superintendent of Police (DSP) of Jhajjar and Bahadurgarh districts, the Municipal Corporator's husband, the Block Development Officer and at leas fifty policemen.

Says City Magistrate, Rajpal Singh who saw the lynching: "We tried stopping them, but got hurt ourselves in the process. I was dragged a few feet away, otherwise I would have been killed." One FIR (First Information Report or complaint lodged with the police) has been registered agains "unknown people,"while a second has been filed against the victims under the Cow Slaughter Act. Until Thursday, not a single arrest had been made. Local office-bearers of the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad / World Hindu Council) and the Shiv Sena (Army of Shiva) have submitted a memorandum to the local police asking them not to take any action against those accused of the murders.

The Indian Express spoke to several eyewitnesses and district officials to reconstruct the incident. And they suggested this was no impulsive act, the frenzy built up over a good three and a half hours - the Dalits were first "spotted" at 6.30 p.m., beaten and dragged to the police post and then battered to death between 9 and 10 p.m.

"Local VHP workers and some anti-social elements were spotted at the scene," says District Commissioner Manohar Kumar, who claimed he reached late because of a traffic jam. "The word spread by telephone, word of mouth and of course, a tractorfull of people returning from the fair stopped." Local VHP office-bearers dare the police to take action. "If they can kill our mother, then what if we kill our brothers who kill her, says Mahendra Parmanand, the priest of the local temple

Jhajjar Must Be Judged

Only then can we prevent Lynch Law from becoming the Law of the land

Editorial, 18th Oct., 2002, the Indian Express, Bombay Edition.
Young men reduced to blood stains on the road. The lynching of five Dalit youth in a Haryana village, near the town of Jhajjar, on the mere suspicion that they had slaughtered a cow testifies to the simmering caste tensions that have always characterised life in rural and semi-urban India. But what gives a malevolent new twist to old animosities is the evangelical zeal that marks the political practice of the local offshoots of organisations like the VHP and the Shiv Sena, which act as vigilante groups of the worst kind.

As the Express reported, the men who were killed were only skinning dead animals for their hides, an activity their community has been engaged in from time immermorial. But a rumour that a cow had been slaughtered, was enough to unleash the fury of a two thousand strong mob on them. As usually happens in such circumstances, the entire majesty of the state - or whatever pretence of it that exists in the hinterland - quickly dissipates. The poor men had desperately sought protection in the local police station but this offered pitiful sanctuary indeed. The city magistrate in fact told this newspaper that he and his colleagues were themselves fearful of being killed.

If the lynch law is not to become the common law of the land, then Haryana Chief Minister Omprakash Chautala had better ensure that speedy justice is dispensed in this case, notwithstanding the threats and attempts to browbeat the local administration on thsi score. It is notoriously difficult to puish everybody who comprise a criminal mob, but those who can be held accountable like local leaders who had organised and incited the mob must feel the swift wrath of teh state. The tragedy highlights a larger point. Today, despite decades of political activism among Dalits, there is no leader in the community who does not stand compromised, busy as they are in furthering their own personal agendas. Meanwhile, atrocities against the community carry on apace, whether it is mass killings in Bihar or denial of temple entry in Rajasthan, or the burning of villagers in Karnataka. The community badly needs the energy and commitment of another B. R. Ambedkar.

Road to Conversion:
The Chakwada Detour

Udit Raj, Guest Column, the Indian Express, Bombay Edition, 18th Oct., 2002 . The writer is the national Chairman of the All India Confederation of Scheduled Castes and Tribes Organisations.
HINDUTVA organisations are outraged over conversions, and their outrage prevents them from entering into negotiations with Muslim and Christian leaders. But have they ever bothered to understand the plight of Dalits? Dalits and backward castes consider themselves Hindus, but Hinduism does not respond to them; otherwise, there would be normal social behaviour, such as inter-marrying and inter-dining, among followers of the same religion. Whenever a Hindu inquires about other Hindus, what he actually wants to know is their castes. This isn't the case with other religions.

The Gujarat Earthquake proved beyond doubt that even in that hour of crisis, the so-called upper castes didn't want to share their foold and shelter, let alone joy and sorrow, with the Dalits. This dispels the doubt that crores of Dalits converted to Islam and Christianity because of coercion and allurement. The process of conversion is on and whenever it happens, the Sangh Parivar reacts by hurling brickbats at Christians and Muslims but they don't even attempt to know the circumstances which compel Dalits and others to convert. Prime Minister Atalbihari Vajpayee has also said that there must be a debate on conversion, but he never talked of having a debate on Hinduism.

One good place to understand the compulsion of conversion is at Chakwada village, 60 kms. from the Rajasthan capital, Jaipur. Here, as was reported by the media, the upper castes have not allowed the Dalits to use the temple and temple bathing pool. Dalits cannot by goods from 'upper caste' shops. Some human right organisations tried to defy the whip on 21,sup>st September, but they were terrorised by the strong arm tactics of the upper castes. The event adequately exposed the helplessness of the police as well as teh machinery of the Congress government.

Are Dalits worse than even street dogs and catte who are free to use the water of 'upper caste' water tanks? According to the standard definition, all relitions essentially have the same attributes and elements, but such attitudes mark Hinduism as different from all other religions.

When the All India Confederation of Scheduled Castes and Tribes Organisations and the Buddha Club were organising a Buddhist Diksha ceremony on 4th November, 2001, at the Ramlila Ground in New Delhi, Giriraj Kishore of the VHP tried to get the function cancelled, but had to bow to the masses who wanted to embrace Buddhism. The question the Hindutva outfits didn't ask is: Why were all those people embracing Buddhism?

When it's the Dalits who're embracing other religions, how can Christians and Muslims be blamed? Isn't it time Hindutva outfits did something that will prove that Dalits are also Hindus? Recently fourty Balmikis from Gurgaon in Haryana embraced Islam, which was condemned by VHP leaders. In fact, the Balmikis were not being allowed to draw water from the well by the upper castes, and the Muslims taunted them about this. Pained and humiliated, the Dalits embraced Islam.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi used Dalits and backwards agianst the minorities while exhorting them that the Hindu religion was in danger. After the riots, weren't they treated as untouchables and outcastes all the same? If the Dalits of Chakwada had been treated as Hindus, the protest would never have broken out. So is there any justification in saying that it's because of Islam and Christianity that Dalits are facing barbaric times?

Action On Haryana Dalit Murders:
Cow Sent For Post-Mortem!

Sonu Jain, Jhajjar/Badshahpur, Haryana, 18th Oct. In the Indian Express, Bombay Edition, 19th Oct., 2002 .
Two days after five Dalits are lynched barely two hours from the heart of the nation's capital: Not a single arrest, a few statements of outrage, the local VHP justifying the murders. And if you thought this was shocking, consider this: the administration has sent the carcass of the cow for a post-mortem!

To ostensibly find out if the victims had been skinning a live cow or a dead cow!

"Final conclusion will be drawn after the report comes," says Muhammad Akil, Superintendent of Police (SP), Jhajjar, "the viscera has been preserved for further investigation." The Indian Express questioned Akil: All this is a cruel joke for Ratan Singh, father of 27 year old Virender Singh, one of those burnt alive. A resident of Badshahpur village in Gurgaon, Ratan Singh says that this is nothing but a cover-up. "We have been doing this for generations."

"There is no question of them skinning a cow by the side of the road. They worked on contracts which they got from the Municipality auctions," he says. "The truck the five Dalits were travelling in, had hides and would never carry a carcass."

According to him, his son and his nephew, Dayachand, hired a truck, picked up hides from Farruqnagar and were going to Karnal to sell the cargo. A trader from Karnal, Kailash, was with them.

Dayachand, in his early thirties, has left behind his young wife and two children.

Dayachand's father Budhram alleges that as per his inquiries, the police stopped the truck and asked the five Dalits for a bribe. "When they refused to pay, they were beaten up and a case registered under the Cow Slaughter Act. Since one of them got seriously injured because of the police assaults in the police station, the police had no other option but to spread the story that they were killing a cow."

Dalit Killings:
VHP Only Frets Over Value of Cow

Express News Service, 18th Oct., New Delhi & Chandigarh. In the Indian Express, Bombay Edition, 19th Oct., 2002 .
The lynching of five Dalits in Jhajjar in Haryana is fast acquiring a political hue with the VHP under fire from the Left parties for bringing out a "celeberatory procession" in Jhajjar, ruling out its involvement in the murders but quoting the Hindu scriptures to point out that "the life of a cow is more precious than that of a human being."

"We have to ascertain whether the cow was killed by the five or was already dead. This is why the provincial government has also reserved its comment. Reports said the Dalits were lyunched by a mob. But can anyone discipline a mob?" VHP senior vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore said at a press conference in New Delhi.

He ten went on to quote from the Hindu scriptures that "the life of a cow is more precious than that of a human being." In Chandigarh, VHP Haryana unit chief Rampal Gaur maintained that a cow had been slaughtered in Jhajjar. "The area has a history of such incidents," he said.

The Congress Party, in the meantime, is dispatching a team to Jhajjar to obtain first-hand information. Party president Sonia Gandhi today asked R.K. Dhawan to visit the site. He will be accompanied by the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee chief Bhajan Lal, the Congress Legislature Party chief Bhoopinder Singh Hooda and two All India Congress Committee secretaries Krishna Tirath and Selja.

Condemning the incident, the Congress sought a thorough judicial probe. "It is inconceivable taht the lynching took place in the presence of a magistrate and a large number of policemen. We also demand action against all officials guilty of dereliction of duty. It is abundantly evident that these officials were partially paralytic in their approach," the Congress spokesman S. Jaipal Reddy told mediapersons. He also pointed a finger at the VHP for allegedly mounting pressure on the provincial government ot go soft on the culprits. The Haryana government, on its part, has ordered a fresh inquiry. Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala announced the second inquiry, to be conducted by Rohtak District Commissioner of Police, R. R. Banswal. Muhammad Akil, the Superintendent of Police, Jhajjar, said that this will supersede the special investigative team set up two days ago.

"The orders have come today and we will try and get to the bottom of the truth. Though in a mob-like situation, it is difficult to identify the guilty, the need is to get to know the truth," Banswal, who hasn't started the inquiry yet, said. The government will also award Rupees one lac as compensation to the next of kin of those murdered. While Chautala said some culprits had been identified, the VHP denied its cadres' involvement. Kishore said organisation secretary Surendra Jain had been sent to Jhajjar for an on-the-spot inquiry.

The VHP's political front, BJP, ruling in the province and federal levels coalitions, played it cautiously today. In New Delhi, BJP spokesman Sunil Shastri, while condemning "any kind of killing,"said, "We hope the Haryana government goes into the depth of the matter." In Chandigarh, BJP legislature party leader Krishanpal Gujjar criticised the Haryana government for heaping the blame on the RSS and VHP. "They have this fickle mentality of shifting the blame on the VHP for all such activities," he said.

But the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India-Marxist factions' state secretaries, who returned to New Delhi from Jhajjar after a fact-finding trip, said that VHP activists not only incited the mob to kill the five Dalits but also took out a procession to "celebrate" the gruesome incident. Raghuvir Singh (CPI) and Inderjit Singh (CPI-M) said that the police were putting out "a dubious and false version" of the killings. "They are yet to identify the person who sold the dead cow or find the instrument that could have been used for skinning the cow," they said.
1according to the report, Mohammad Akil used the word "maut" (death). I have substituted the word fate instead.- PJM
See more:
  1. Communist Fact-Finding
  2. The Hindu
  3. Outlook - 1
  4. Outlook - 2
  5. Outlook - 3
  6. Outlook - 4

©Lucio Mascarenhas. 24th October 2002.
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