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Rajasthan: Dalit families briefly ‘flee’ village following clash with Gujjars during Ambedkar Jayanti

While the district administration termed the incident ‘a symbolic protest’ and denied migration of Dalit families, Dalit rights activists have said that the members of the community had fled the village due to fear that they will be attacked.

CCTV footage of the incident purportedly shows the accused stabbing the victim multiple times. Locals and family members are seen trying to intervene but the accused allegedly threatens them with his knife. The victim is seen running away before collapsing.

Several Dalit families allegedly fled from their village in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur district to reach the office of the district collector on Tuesday, citing fear after a clash with members of the Gujjar community on April 14 on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti.

While the district administration termed the incident ‘a symbolic protest’ and denied migration of Dalit families, Dalit rights activists have said that the members of the community had fled the village due to fear that they will be attacked. The families later returned to their homes and police personnel were deployed to prevent untoward incidents, said Bharatpur district collector Alok Ranjan.

After the families reached the district administration headquarters in Bharatpur on Tuesday, officials visited their village with the district collector and superintendent of police staying overnight during a Dalit member’s wedding.

“More than 50-60 Dalit families left the Seh village in Kumher with their kids, belongings and even domestic animals. They fled the village because of the fear of reprisal from the Gujjar community. Members of the Gujjar community had pelted stones while Dalits in the village were celebrating Ambedkar Jayanti on April 14. Later, the Gujjar community had also registered a counter FIR naming 29 people from the Dalit community. It was after this that they fled the village,” said Lalaram Bhadana of the Centre for Dalit Rights.

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After the villagers reached the collectorate, the district administration arranged food and water for them.

As per the FIR filed by members of the Dalit community on April 14 at the Kumher police station, members of the Gujjar community had set fire to the pandal where Ambedkar Jayanti was being celebrated and had also pelted stones at the event. Casteist slurs were also used against the Dalits, says the FIR.

The FIR was registered under sections 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc) of the IPC along with relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

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“The villagers came to the district collectorate on Tuesday as a symbolic form of protest. There hasn’t been any exodus of Dalit families from the village. The immediate concern of the protesters was a wedding of the Dalit community which was scheduled for today. They also demanded an impartial investigation of the case filed against them by the Gujjar community wherein 29 people from the Dalit community were booked. We convinced them to return and I, along with the SP, stayed at the village till early morning and ensured that the wedding took place smoothly,” Ranjan told The Indian Express on Wednesday.

Ranjan said that so far one person has been arrested in relation to the FIR filed by the Dalit community against the Gujjar community.

First published on: 20-04-2022 at 18:35 IST
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