Driven away from their village by musclemen and forced to live on the streets for more than a year, a Dalit family of seven in Rajasthan will soon head home under police protection.
“We have spent more than 570 days wandering around, afraid of returning to our village, Gehalpur,” Sukhdev Nath, the head of the family, said on Monday after finally getting an assurance of safety from the police.
The family was forced to flee Gehalpur under Kishangarh sub-division of Ajmer district, 135 km west of capital Jaipur, on November 5, 2011.
“Upper caste village strongman Naurat Jat and his men demolished the boundary of our home built under the Indira Awaas Yojana and assaulted us,” Sukhdev, 60, a daily wage labourer, said. “We never returned because the musclemen threatened to disrobe my 14-year-old granddaughter if we did.”
The Dalit family’s boundary wall had come in the way of a shortcut road the strongmen wanted to build to the village temple. Sukhdev said he had approached the local Arain police station for help. “The police, however, thrashed me in Jat’s presence.”
Arain police station SHO Kailash Gujjar dismissed Sukhdev’s allegation, saying he had never approached them.
Ajmer superintendent of police Gaurav Srivastava met Sukhdev and instructed Arain police to make arrangements for the Dalit family’s return to Gehalpur. “The police will protect them,” he said.
Kishangarh sub-divisional magistrate Krishna Avtar Trivedi said he had ordered a security cover of four constables led by an assistant sub-inspector for Sukhdev and his family. “We also have prohibitory orders against Jat and his men from going near Sukhdev.”
No government official was willing to go on record over why the family’s frantic attempts to get justice had not caught the administration’s eye earlier.