Saturday, May 29, 2010

Petition Against Atrocities on Dalits in Haryana

- New Socialist Initiative

The horrific incident which involved torching of houses of the Dalit community, including burning alive of a polio-stricken girl and her father, by a mob of organized Jats in Mirchpur Village in Hisar, Haryana on 21st April, 2010, is a living testimony to the fact that the people of Dalit communities are still being denied the right to exist in an atmosphere free of fear and oppression. The audacity of the members of the Jat community to willingly and openly organize following a collective deliberation in their Khaap Panchayat to attack and injure the Dalit community is a direct threat to the dignity, rights, safety and freedom of people of the latter community. It marks the failure of the law-keepers of the state and the society. That the criminal act was carried out in an organized and pre planned manner by members who are “superior” (Jats) against a vulnerable community in the presence of the law keepers/government officials is a frightening witness to the existing extra-judicial power politics which privilege the higher caste community and provide them with impunity against acts of violence and pre-meditated killings.

This is not the first time that the people from the Dalit community have been subjected to inhuman attroticities. The fact-finding reports by independent groups of the universities and civil society organisations in Delhi have found out that a Khaap Panchayat of the Jat community of Mirchpur conducted a meeting and planned the organized burning of the Dalit houses and destroy property as well as life of the Dalits. In recent times, the role of the Khaaps have come to the fore and proponents of that tradition have even challenged the law laid down by the Constitution of the land and continue propogation of anti-humanitarian methods of retaining caste, gender and social inequalities. 
Whether it is the issue of anti-Dalit atrocities or the case of honour killings, the Khaaps have indulged in blatant violation of any humane rationale. The Mirchpur incident is frightening not only in its magnitude but also in its intensity. Why such incidents recur with such frequency is a matter of serious and immediate concern. Without the ‘protection’ provided by the state, law and people in positions of power the Khaaps would not be able to make decisions and pass orders against the law of the land. In the name of tradition and morality such Khaaps cannot be allowed to continue functioning in such orthodox manner which results in the killing and torture of people. The state should immediately take into account the urgency of the situation and should not allow the perpetrators of the Mirchpur incident to go scot-free. Allowing impunity to these perpetrators would be allowing them to make a complete mockery of the democratic principles upon which our society and Constitution are based. It is important to curtail and deter the Khaaps from their extra-judicial actions and empower people to rise against the suffocating orthodoxy that tends to govern social relations in Haryana villages. Haryana has had a long and sustained history of anti-dalit atrocities which cannot go unnoticed. 

We appeal strongly to the concerned authorities to deal with the orthodox and fascistic behaviour and acts of violence by members of the Jat community who take legitimacy from the Khaaps. We demand that the following steps be taken strictly and urgently to render justice to the affected as well as uphold universal human values and rights. 

1) Bring criminal charges under the SC/ST Atrocities Act 1989 against the Khaap Panchayat leaders and members of the Jat community who instigated, planned, organized and participated in the burning of the Dalit village and burning alive of the disabled girl and her father belonging to the affected community. 

2) Ensure that the implementation of the SC/ST Atrocities Act 1989 be implemented unflinchingly and swiftly. 

3) Investigate into the role of the area police station in-charge and the Naib Tehsildar in whose presence and knowledge the Khaap meeting which planned and organized the incident took place and the subsequent atrocity was perpetrated. 

4) Declare Hisar and Haryana as a anti-Dalit violence-prone area, considering the fact that anti-Dalit violence has persisted in other Haryana districts like Jhajjar, Karnal, Rohtak etc. 

5) The Haryana State and the Center should provide adequate security to the Dalit community who were forced to flee from their village and restore their land and livelihood and raise their confidence by providing swift justice apart from the redressal. 

6) Intervene pro-actively against Khaap Panchayat decisions that entail risk of people’s lives. Curtail the Khaaps against holding extra-judicial decisions which are blatantly against the law of the land; and stopping the Khaaps from instigating and indulging in caste-based discrimination and violence; from indulging in illegal activities and human rights violation. 


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