Jhajjar (Haryana), Oct. 18: Confusion reigns in Dulina village, about two hours drive from the capital, where five Dalits were killed on Tuesday with the police and villagers blaming each other.
The five, all in their twenties, were killed for skinning a cow for hide, a profession their families have been practising for three generations.
The killings — three were lynched and two torched — took place just a few yards away from the police post, a three-room tenement. A marble structure, an apology of a sanctum sanctorum for a Shiv temple, stood a mute witness as the five were done to death.
The police say the youths had bought what they claimed a dead cow and were on their way to sell the hide when a group of men spotted them near the Dulina police post. Word soon spread that a cow was being slaughtered for hide and a mob of 2,000, including some alleged VHP supporters, gathered and lynched them.
Instead of arresting the culprits, the local administration has sent the carcass of the cow for post-mortem to ascertain whether the animal was dead or alive while being skinned.
While an FIR was filed against unknown persons, another was lodged against the victims under the Cow Slaughter Act.
Villagers and relatives of the victims, however, allege that the police had demanded bribe from the Dalits. When they refused to pay, they were tortured and one of them died. The policemen then killed the remaining four to destroy evidence, some villagers said.
Rameshwari, sister-in-law of victims Dayachand and Virender, said: “The police demanded Rs 5,000 and when they refused to pay, they were beaten to death.” Dayachand’s brother Dharam said: “No mob came as the police have claimed.”
The room where the Dalits were first locked up bears evidence of bloodstains having been removed. There is no sign of mob fury and the single-brick walls and door are intact.
Police post in-charge Shiv Dayal and city magistrate Raj Pal Singh were tightlipped. “I do not want to say anything about the role of (the) VHP,” Singh said.
There are no villages within a radius of 5 km and it is unlikely that such a large crowd could have assembled in a couple of hours. Jhajjar and its adjacent areas are the stronghold of the Indian National Lok Dal and the Congress. The BJP’s presence here is negligible.
Dalit leader and Lok Janashakti Party chief Ramvilas Paswan visited the spot today. He demanded a CBI probe and the setting up of a special court to try the case. Paswan told the residents that he would stall Parliament and added that his Dalit Sena activists would demonstrate outside the Prime Minister’s residence and organise an “Anti-Dalit Oppression Day” on October 28 to bring the guilty to book.
All-India Democratic Women’s Association secretary Brinda Karat led a team to Dulina yesterday. Congress president Sonia Gandhi will send R.K. Dhawan and Bhajan Lal tomorrow. BSP chief Mayavati is also visiting the village tomorrow.
District commissioner Mohinder Kumar, city magistrate Rajpal Singh and superintendent of police Mohammad Akil are certain that the Dalits were lynched. But they are clueless as to why the youths chose to skin the cow in front of a police post or why the police did not fire in the air or spread teargas to help the five escape mob fury.
Although no VHP or Bajrang Dal leader has taken responsibility for the killings, the parivar outfits seem to be using the opportunity to step up campaign against cow slaughter. A villager quoted Bajrang Dal leader Parmanand Giri as saying: “Those who killed them should be felicitated with medals.”
Sarpanch Om Prakash Tyagi said a local VHP leader has warned the administration of “dire consequences if any of our boys are arrested”.
Parivar organisations also took out a congratulatory procession on Wednesday, adding to the controversy.