In the dilapidated courtyard of Jitender’s family home, a gathering of men and women on two sides of a tent bears witness to growing public anger and private mourning.
A group of women comfort his mother and aunt, singing songs of mourning and calling for justice and on the other side are locals and political activists who plan for “action” ahead.
Kamal Dutt Gautam, district president of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), said Friday discussions were on to organise a Dalit mahapanchayat at the constituency level. According to local BSP leaders, the Jatav community has “considerable” representation in Faridabad seat. The leaders are now planning to reach out to them too.
Then, comes a threat of mass conversions if “upper caste Hindus continue to deny justice to them”. “We have had meetings with other members of the family and those belonging to the Dalit community, from other villages too. If we are not treated equally and if justice is denied to us, we all would go the Ambedkar way and convert to Buddhism. The families here are ready to leave the village if they are abused and called names anymore,” said Rohtas, district secretary of BSP.
In Lucknow, BSP chief Mayawati said Jitender and his family were burnt because they dared to rise up and were “swabhimaani” (self-respecting). Dalits in Sunpedh second that sentiment.
On Friday, a platoon of special Rapid Action Force was deployed in the village. A segment, comprising six officials has been ordered to be present round-the-clock at the victim’s house.
Police have also upped security for Jitender, the father of the two children who were burnt alive, in a Ballabhgarh hospital, where he was taken on Thursday evening after he developed infection on his burnt hands.