Murder in Uttarakhand:
Dalits' Plight

The PUCL has received a letter from Ms. Suvarnaa, author and journalist, Ahmedabad. She had recently toured parts of Uttarakhand between May 13, 2000 and May 31, 2000. She sent a case along with her letter with a request to send it to the NHRC, since UP does not have a State Human Rights Commission.
While moving from village to village she studied the socio-economic problems of the people and the state of development in the area. While in Bageshwar she happened to come across a Dalit, Shri Chandra Ram of village Kanthali Kote, Tahsil Kapkote, District Bageshwar. Shri Chandra Ram reported to her that his son, Ramesh Ram, was murdered and the family was terrorized so much that the family had to migrate to another village. We are giving below the English translation of the written account that the father of the murdered boy gave to Ms. Suvarnaa:

"My son, Ramesh Ram, student of class IV, of the village school of Kanthali Kote went to take an examination in good-health on May 7, 1999. While returning from this school he was called by one Bahadur Singh, a shop-keeper, to his shop. Pravin Singh and Rajendra Singh were also sitting there. Bahadur Singh asked Ramesh Ram to eat a preparation of boiled potatoes. Ramesh Ram told him that he did not eat potatoes, and secondly, he did not have money. On the insistence of Bahadur Singh he ate two plates with some Chatni. After that Pravin Singh and Rajendra Singh beat him up and dragged him to the fields near-by and left him there. When the child did not reach home till evening his grand- mother, Kamee Devi, went to look for him. About 200 meters away, she saw him writhing in a field. Foam was oozing out of his mouth. She brought him home and he related to her the whole episode and asked her to pay the price of two plates of potatoes to Bahadur Singh. Chandra Ram, the father of Ramesh Ram, returned home late at night. The condition of his son deteriorated and on the morning of May 8 the family brought him to Bageshwar hospital. He was given two bottles of glucose. But he could not be saved. The post-mortem of the body and the filing of the FIR took two days and the family stayed at Bageshwar. (The FIR number is 323/328/304/Bha.Da.Vi/3(1)(X)/SC/ST Act 1999 was registered on 8.5.1999). Since the revenue police was on strike, the FIR was registered with the police station".

Thereafter the terrorized family went to village Bilagnasera, about 2 kms from the district headquarters and has been living there since then. Chandra Ram told Ms Suvarnaa, "I came to know on 29.12.1999 that my hut where I lived in Kanthali Kote, has been ransacked. I went there and saw that the doors were broken open and my tools of iron smithy, household goods, food grain, and ownership papers were missing. I was told by one Shri Pratap Ram that this was done by my neighbour, one Pratap Singh. I reported this second incident to the SDM of Kapkote on December 30, 1999".

The family is still living on the roadside, 20 kms away from their home in village Bilagnasera. The family comprises 5 children, one deaf and dumb sister, old mother, and brother's family. In the month of May one accused was arrested, others are still roaming free. The family is afraid of them.
(The PUCL has sent the case to the Chairperson of the Commission with the request to direct the concerned authorities to provide protection to this Dalit family of Shri Chandra Ram so that they may go back home and repair the house structure. A letter from the Commission to the concerned district authorities can expedite the investigations of the case also. -- General Secretary)


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(PUCL Bulletin, August 2000)