People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 11, 2007
CPI(M) Condemns Anti-Dalit Attack In A Karnal Village
ON March 3, the Haryana state units of the CPI(M) and All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) sent a delegation to Salwan village in Karnal district to enquire into the murder of a villager there by some youth, followed by incidents of arson and armed attacks against several dalit households. Led by CPI(M) state secretariat member Prakash Chandra, the delegation comprised Karnal CPI(M) secretary Jagmal Singh, Suba Singh, AIAWU state president Sushil Kumar, Prem Singh of the DYFI, Jarnail Singh, Satbir, Lehna Singh, Raunak Ram and Pawan Kumar.
One will note that the said murder took place on February 27 and the body was found the next day. The conclusion the police reached was that the murder was the result of a quarrel between the victim, who belonged to the Rajput caste, and 5 or 6 youth of a dalit caste who were grazing goats and sheep in the area.
After talking with the dalit families affected by the attack and vandalism in Salwan village, the CPI(M) delegation also went to the house of the deceased peasant who had been looking after his family with a holding on only one and a half acres. Strongly condemning the murder as a heinous crime, the delegation demanded adequate compensation for his family as well.
According to the delegation’s report, some 200 to 250 persons of the dominant caste in the village planned and executed an attack on dalit households, with lathis, spears, sabres and swords, to avenge the said murder. During this organised attack, more than 80 dalit houses were arsoned, 8 houses and a shop were put to fire, and 3 dalits were injured. In anticipation of this attack, some of the dalit families had already left the village while some ran here and there to save themselves when the attack came.
The delegation noted that the police administration did not seriously take the strong possibility of such an attack, and that only a few policemen were present there when the dalit settlement in the village was attacked. The police force reached the spot only about three hours after the said attack and arson.
While condemning in strong terms this attack in Salwan village, the CPI(M) state secretariat demanded the arrest and stern punishments to the attackers and proper compensation for and rehabilitation of the affected families.
One notes that the state has already witnessed in the recent past several incidents of organised attack upon dalits, of arson and vandalism, social boycott of the dalit people and use of force to drive them away by the dominant castes. Such cases were seen in Dulina, Gohana, Harsaula, Mehmoodpur, Jhamaula, Kalayat and Qila Zafargarh.
The CPI(M) has held the vested interests in the state, backed up by communal and casteist formations, as squarely responsible for such attacks. It says the RSS and BJP are hyperactive and are hatching plans to effect a communal polarisation in the state to break the people’s unity on caste lines. This is a part of their game to divert into fratricidal channels the people’s anger and discontent over the anti-people policies of bourgeois-landlord regimes, and to exploit this discontent for narrow electoral gains. Cautioning the people of Haryana against such attempts, the CPI(M) has said criminals have no specific caste or religion and that the attacks on whole communities to avenge a misdeed or crime betrays a dangerous trend. Apart from the RSS and BJP, the INLD and Congress too have had a hand behind such attacks upon dalit people in the state, as these parties have also been anxious to appease the dominant castes in each such case.
The CPI(M) has also expressed concern over the extremist and parochial positions adopted by dalit leaders in the past over such attacks. In order to serve their own vested interests, these dalit leaders have kept themselves confined within the bounds of casteist thinking, with the result that the basic causes behind these attacks and behind the deplorable plight of dalit sections have always been ignored. It is thus that the feudal, casteist and reactionaries forces have been working to weaken the gradually strengthening popular unity to press for basis demands like livelihood and employment, education, health and social justice. The CPI(M) has sought to underline the need of exposing the parochial politics behind these anti-dalit attacks and of fighting the extremist forces on both sides of the caste divide by forging a broad front against them.
According to the CPI(M), after the various incidents of attacks against minority and dalit groups, the role of the police administration has always been determined by the officials’ deep-rooted prejudices against these groups and not by the requirements of the rule of law. As an example of such a prejudiced way of thinking, after a CBI team ‘investigated’ the incident of arson, fire and vandalism against a Valmiki settlement in Gohana last year, it showed no compunction in tomtoming its conclusion that some people had put their own houses on fire in order to extract compensation from the government.
The state secretariat of the party has demanded that the state government seriously take the attacks being organised against dalit people all over the state and take strict action against the culprits. It has also demanded full protection for the affected families of Salwan village.
The party has decided to call a general body meeting of its members in Karnal district to explain the underlying causes of such incidents and has chalked out a continuing campaign against them. It will make efforts to involve in this task various mass organisations, parties and individuals who stand by the fighting unity of the working people.