A day after a dalit man was killed and his son was critically injured when a group of men attacked them, the village remains tensed. A company of Provincial Armed Constabulary and riot control police have been deployed at the village as a precautionary measure.
Fifty-five-year-old Jagdish Singh and his son, Dharmender, 20, were attacked by a group of men outside their village, some 30 km from Delhi. Jagdish was hacked to death while Dharmender survived with critical injuries. Relatives of the deceased said the incident was a result of decades old rivalry between dalits and gurjars over a piece of land.
The incident had triggered a violent protest and the villagers had blocked the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway on Wednesday. Police had to use mild force and aerial firing to disperse the mob.
Members of the dalit community alleged that they were being persecuted by the rich fellow villagers, mostly Gurjars, and sought police protection as they feel threatened.
“There are only three house of Jatav community, from which Jagdish belonged, in the village. Also, there are a handful of house of Valmikis in the locality. A majority of the residents are from Gurjar community. Most of them are landlords and rich. We cannot fight them. We need police protection,” said Prem Chand, a relative of the deceased.
The relatives of the deceased claim that peace in the area was always fragile and many incidents of sectarian clashes have taken place in the past.
“The only way out of this village is surrounded by the houses of the people who killed Jagdish. Earlier, they used to pass lewd comments to our sisters and sometimes they even tried to block the way of some of the girls from our community when they were going to school. The incident had triggered tension in the area but we compromised and did not file any complaint against them for the sake of our security,” said Bhola, nephew of the deceased.
Asked about the incident, senior superintendent of police, Kiran Sivakumar said, “A case has been registered against seven persons. They were identified as, Sonu, Monu, Babali, Ramesh, Ravinder, Sunder and Babu. All are residents of the same village. They are absconding. A manhunt has been launched to arrest them. The claims of villagers will be verified and lawful action will be taken against the culprits.”
Police said a provincial armed constabulary (PAC) and riot control police have been deployed in the area.
The 4.5 bigha (1.8 acre) disputed land is adjacent to the Yamuna Expressway and Noida-Greater Noida Expressway for which Jagdish fought a case for over 20 years.
“Our community has very less land. We fought for whatever we had. The price of land is skyrocketing in the city following which the rich and powerful men wanted to grab it,” Prem Chand added.