PUCL, January 2004

Two Dalit youth killed for winning cricket matches

Killing of two Dalits at village Santagarh district Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh)

A PUCL Delhi report by Shri Pushkar Raj and Shri Vidya Bhushan Rawat.

Alos see, On Bloody Pavilions - Dalit youths in this UP village win a game of cricket but lose lives in the caste war, Outlook India, 23 Feb 2004

Two young dalits were killed by some upper caste Rajputs charging them of theft in a village near Saharanpur.

A local social worker Shri Ram Kumar requested PUCL to investigate the matter. The General Secretary of PUCL, Dr. Y. P. Chhibbar deputed two member team comprising Shri Pushkar Raj, General Secretary of PUCL-Delhi and Shri Vidya Bhushan Rawat, an executive member of PUCL-Delhi to conduct a fact finding investigation on the incident.

The team after visiting the village of incident and talking to the all concerned submitted the report which is produced below.

The place of incident
The matter pertains to a village Santagarh which is about four kilometers from the district head quarter of Saharanpur, a sugar cane and mango growing prosperous region of western Uttar Pradesh.

The village falls in Harora constituency of the state legislature from where last time Mayawati had won an impressive victory. The village is mainly inhabited by scheduled castes (SC) and as we were told has 600 votes. Hasanpur is the adjoining village with 2600 voters, with mixed population, majority of them Rajputs.

Young men from both villagers indulge in friendly cricket matches with a few hundred rupees at stake. But at times the scene gets ugly if lower caste village (Santagarh’s) boys win. In the last three cricket matches Santagarh trounced Hasanpur. During the last match there were heated arguments, scuffles broke out and there were minor injuries on both sides. Injuries healed but grudges survived.

The incident
Day: 21 December, Sunday. Time 10:30. Place: villager cricket playground. Vikas son of Man Singh aged 21, who worked at local brick kiln to support the family was playing cricket along with other boys of village. He was batting with all the supporting gears, pad and guard. Munish son of Vikram Singh, aged 20, who worked as a carpenter, a piece of sugar cane in his hand, was on his way to join them. According to the village eye witness four men on motor cycles arrived on the scene. Two of them are identified as Karam Singh and Karan Singh, both from village Hasanpur. “Village Pradhan (headman) is calling you”, they are reported to have told Vikas. He wanted to talk about a theft of a motor pump from one of the caller’s farm. Suspecting nothing untoward he accompanied them. At the same time Munish was also asked to accompany them. Rest of the boys kept playing cricket, expecting that the two would join them soon.

Time: 2:30 afternoon. A boy comes running to the house of Vikas. His father, a diminutive figure of sixty is told that his son is killed by Rajputs and police have taken his body to hospital. He runs to the hospital and is told that his son is dead. He is not shown the dead body. He is told it has been taken for postmortem. Munish’s father, around fifty and a patient of tuberculosis for the last five years was luckier. When he reached the hospital his son was counting his last breaths. He died in his lap.

Victims’ relatives’ version
The illiterate parents of the victims denied that there was any past enmity of the boys with any body. According to them they have failed to understand as to why their innocent sons were killed. The fact of the loss of their son is slowly sinking, as one of the parents show you the photograph of the victim. Vikas’s father told us that he had tied the tent in the morning and had gone to play cricket as he was fond of the game. As they were blissfully unaware at home like any other day they seemed to have picked up pieces of information from the villagers who were on or around the scene of the crime.
The father of Vikas had visited the hospital and had seen his son die before his eyes, alleged that there were beating and torture marks all over the body of his son. He said that his neck was almost broken.

They however alleged that there is a connivance of the village Pradhan in the matter whose house probably was used in killing the two victims. They felt agitated by the fact that though all the political parties have made a big issue out of it they have failed to impress upon the police to ensure that the four other alleged culprits are quickly identified and arrested. They hoped and begged for the justice by ensuring that the guilty are brought to the book at the earliest. Both the parents however expressed skepticism whether that would happen!

Villager’s version
The villagers said that there had been theft of motor pump from the farms of one of the alleged culprits. The motor was traced at the shop of a Kabadi (junk dealer) named Telu of Paragpur. The alleged culprits probably suspected the victims and decided to teach them a lesson in their own brutal way.

Some villagers who requested not to be named said that the alleged perpetrators of the crime were men with criminal backgrounds. They are alleged to have committed grave crimes including murder in not too distant past and had got away with it because of their political influence and contacts in police. Two ministers of the present government are said to have taken keen interest in shielding them in the present case.

According to the villagers the victims were killed by placing their neck on the center of tractor hydraulic (the rear part of tractor under which ploughing iron rods are fitted) placing a lathi on upper part of it (neck) and putting pressure on either side of it, thereby damaging the wind pipe. This was borne out by the testimony of one of victim’s (Vikas ) father who had visited the hospital immediately after the incident.

The villagers also held the view that it was a way to put dalits in the state of fear, intimidation and subjugation once again as Mayawati’s government had been replaced by a government that has a considerable Rajput influence. They think that those dalits who felt adequately secured and empowered are being reverted back to their previous state by acts of brutal intimidation and violence.

Village Pradhan’s version
Village Pradhan said that he has been unwell since 12 Dec 2003. He produced a medical certificate for us to see. He said that he has been advised complete bed rest since then. He denied that he called anybody and sent anyone for the victim. He further denied that his gher (where cattle are tied and kept) was used for beating, torturing or killing the victims. He said that the issue has snowballed because of the politicians.

The Pradhan alleged that the police have arrested wrong men. The arrested man, Karam Singh, is not son of Charan Singh as mentioned in the FIR. He is son of Jagat singh. The other person Karan Singh’s father’s name is not at all mentioned in the FIR. What if there are three persons whose name is Karan Singh in the village?

He further said that it was an act of violence by the mob. “How can you identify people in a mob”, he asked. But he was unable to explain as to why a mob would kill two young innocent boys who neither had any criminal record nor any enmity with any body. Further he was hard pressed to explain the fact of four men coming on motor cycles and taking the boys away in front of many people on the pretext that the Pradhan was calling them and at the same time talking about mob violence.

On being asked about the other four people mentioned in FIR, the village Pradhan said that as the named persons are innocent and have been arrested, the police in order to make up the number would one day arrest four more innocent persons.

Police version
The police denied that there had been any report filed with them regarding the theft of the motor pump. However they did not deny that the matter could be linked to it.

When we approached District Superintendent of Police Jitender Sonekar (himself a dalit), he maintained that the case is politically sensitive and therefore it has been handed over to CBCID. He advised us to contact Lucknow headquarter.

On being asked about the anomaly in FIR on which the entire case would be based he denied that any impropriety had been committed on the part of lower staff as the FIR has been registered by the near relatives of the victim.
Regarding, yet to be arrested four persons, he maintained that it was difficult to identify people when the mob is involved.

The local powerful (dominant caste and rich) have no faith in the rule of law. They prefer dispensing justice by themselves rather than go to the police/ state.

The incident is the result of a well planned scheme to murder and not an act of mob violence as some are trying to make it.

The reasons behind the act were many, some accumulated and some immediate:

The immediate provocation seems to be the theft of the motor pump and suspected link of the victim with the same. A week back the alleged culprit’s motor (with which under ground water is drawn at farm land) was stolen from his farm. He is said to have made private investigation and traced the motor to a Kabadi of Paragpur, a nearby village. The Kabadi is said to have named the victims as thieves. There was no evidence to this affect against the victim and neither a report was registered with the police. Rajputs used the alibi of theft of motor pump, to teach the dalits of Santagarh a lesson.

The main cause seems to be the defeat in successive cricket matches that was considered an insult to Rajputs who considered themselves invincible and the least to be beaten by the `subjugated and good for nothing’ dalits.

The profile of victims: They were the good players. They were vocal and upright. On earlier occasion expressed their political empowerment (during Mayawati’s regime) on winning cricket match in no uncertain terms.

The culprits were sure that they would go scot-free as they chose broad light without fear. They felt somewhat emboldened by the fact that they have a Rajput friendly government in Lucknow. The impact of Lucknow regime is more than evident in structure and functioning and general behaviour of the local bureaucracy. Village Pradhan is said to be a relative of one of the minister in UP government.

The connivance of police with the alleged culprits is quite clear. It is borne out from the wrong names that were mentioned in FIR. In essence the FIR is totally fabricated.

Police has been abysmally slow in investigating the case. It is evident from the fact that four other men mentioned in FIR are yet to be identified and arrested.

The FIR must be changed. For one it should be registered under section 302 instead of existing 147, 148 and 304. Secondly the names of the alleged perpetrators of the crime should be correctly mentioned. Otherwise the case will be too week to stand the trial.

The case should be handed over to CBI. The local police have proved incompetent. The move to handover to CBCID is to bury it indefinitely.
The erring police men in this regard (tampering with the FIR) must be brought to book. A departmental inquiry should be initiated against them.
The compensation given to the families of the victims’ is abysmally low. No amount is adequate to compensate the parents of the victim for the loss of their dear ones. Still mere Rs. 1.5 lakh cannot be said to be adequate for emotional and economic loss of the two families. At least a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh must be given to the victims’ families.

The case must proceed with alacrity so that the people’s faith in the law is not shaken.

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