A mahadalit was killed, nine of them critically injured, during a clash with the local landlords over the hoisting of the national flag at a 'disputed' spot in a Bihar village on Independence Day.
In the ensuing clash, Ram Vilas Ram, 60, died on the spot and 43 others, 18 of them women and five children, were injured. The mahadalit side claimed the landlords also damaged the Ravidas shrine.
The 'disputed' spot is a memorial platform raised in the memory of a Rajput leader, Shaheed Nishan Singh, adjacent to a Sant Ravidas temple constructed by the mahadalits, in Rohtas district of the state.
Both the shrines have been built on government land, near a school in Baddi village.
The mahadalits want full control over the land, while the landlords are determined to maintain their access to the memorial.
Mahadalits are a special category scheduled caste created by the Nitish Kumar regime to provide benefits to the poorest sections among Dalits.
After a group of mahadalit youths, who had assembled at the temple, forced the other group to flee from the spot without hoisting the flag, armed villagers of Baddi returned in strength and attacked the mahadalits.
The superior firepower of the landlords forced a retreat by the other side. But their women and children, armed with sickles and axes, came to the front.
Tension had been building up in the area after the mahadalits started turning the Ravidas temple into a double story building and erected a bamboo barricade around the disputed land.
"The local police station organised a meeting of the two sides on Tuesday and allowed them to hoist the national flag at their traditional sites, after they pledged peace will be maintained during the ceremony," said superintendent of police Vikash Burman.
Burman said when the local landlords tried to hoist the flag, they were stopped from doing so, which led to the clashes and the attack on mahadalits.
The local administration has repaired the damaged temple and paid Rs 2.37 lakh to the kin of the deceased.