|A Dalit woman with her child at a relief camp at Lathore. Telegraph picture
Balangir, Jan. 24: Tension was palpable at Lathore for the third successive day as more than 200 upper caste Meher women resorted to road blockade today to demand the release of their male folk arrested for setting afire 30 Dalit houses. They also demanded arrest of Dalits involved in the conflict.
The houses were set on fire after the Dalits and the Mehers allegedly got involved in an altercation over a trivial issue. The Mehers also prevented fire brigade personnel from dousing the flames.
On the other hand, the Dalits, staying at a temporary relief camp for the last two days, staged a dharna to demand the arrest of the “real culprits” and proclamation of prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC to restore peace in the village. All the adult males of the Meher community have fled apprehending arrest.
Jitendra Suna, a Dalit victim, said: “Our demands include declaration of Lathore as an atrocity-prone area as conflicts keep happening. We urge the police to impose prohibitory order in the village as the Mehers continue to prevent entry of people to our village.”
Additional superintendent of police Srikant Mishra said: “The police are patrolling the area and the situation is under control.”