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A CASE OF VOTE BANK OVER HUMAN RIGHTS
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They repeated what the superintendent of police had already stated. They added that they kept telling the growing crowd that “the men are not Muslims but Hindus”. This was stated by them several times. Finally we had to ask them, “Do you mean if they were Muslims, the behaviour of the crowd would be justified'” There was no answer. However, the statement does reveal the anti-Dalit attitude of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders masterminding the incident. We asked if they had identified any of the killers. “It was too dark”, the station house officer said. The delegation was shocked at this answer because it spells freedom for the killers. It is an indication that there will be no witnesses to identify the killers.

We questioned him further: “But surely the police recognize those who had beaten up the Dalits in the first place. Have you filed FIRs against them'” “No, we have not” was the reply. What about the others' It was not a sudden hit-and-run incident, the crowd was here for several hours, how could you not know at least some of them'” He remained silent. Naseeb Singh then spoke, “I was here too. I can tell you it was a very difficult situation to control the crowd. The police also were attacked.” So the police have enough witnesses to substantiate their theories, but none to speak for the murdered men.

Interestingly, the SHO and others present made some rather scathing comments about the cow-protection platform. They said that there are at least 2,000 cows abandoned in the area, which wander around “eating polythene bags” — “Why don't those who shout about cow protection protect these cows'” they asked. The police took us around the chowki, pointing out marks on the walls made by stones thrown by the mobs. The wrought-iron window bars have also been mangled. However, in our opinion, if a mob as large as the one described by the police had really been aggressive, then the damage would have been far greater. The deputy superintendent of police, who has recently been the recipient of a police award, further elaborated on the theory of big crowds. According to him, if the police had fired, they would all have been killed in retaliatory violence by the mob. But was not firm action the only chance to save the Dalits, we asked. We lathi-charged them twice, he answered, eight of our men got injured. We did not see a single injury on him or any of the others present. As far as arrests are concerned, we were told, “information is being gathered” from the villages to identify the guilty.

In discussions with those present at the chowki, it was clear that the main concern was to “defuse” the situation. We were informed that five teams of the police had been deputed to visit villages to “gather information”.

The inquiry set up by the administration consists of police officers under the DSP, Narendra Singh, whose own role was questionable. There is absolutely no chance of justice for the victims’ families unless an impartial time-bound investigation under the Central Bureau of Investigation is set up.

Conclusion: The silence of mainstream political parties in Haryana, and indeed at the national level, against the terrible atrocity against Dalits shows how the communal agenda of the VHP has so distorted politics that the concern for vote banks takes precedence over the defence of minimum human rights. In Haryana, since the “mandir movement” did not get the response sought by the sangh parivar, the symbol for communal mobilization is “cow protection”. The incident and the subsequent activities of the VHP provide more evidence of its deeply manuvadi, casteist, anti-Dalit outlook and actions.

We call upon all sections to express their anger, their protest against this terrible atrocity against Dalits and to express solidarity with the families in every way possible.

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