A Dalit family in Rajasthan’s Pali district was allegedly assaulted by upper caste people on Friday over a land dispute in which two family members including a pregnant woman were injured.
On March 15, just three days before the incident, the family members had lodged an FIR in which they had stated that they feared for their safety and life and had also named the men who allegedly attacked them on Friday.
“Since 2019, we are fighting two court cases over the ownership of the land where we have been living for generations. Thakur Hukam Singh Rajput of our village has been pressuring us for some time to vacate the land and demanding money from us as well. On March 6, Rajput and several others came to our house and destroyed some of our property,” said Ashok Kumar Meghwal, 27, a resident of Sirana village in Pali district.
After the incident, Meghwal registered an FIR on March 15 at the Rohat police station against six people, saying his family fears they will be attacked.
“Even after the establishment of democracy and law in the country, these people have still maintained the feudal system in our village and exploit Dalit families,” Meghwal said in the FIR.
He said he had also sent a copy of his complaint to the chief minister, state DGP and other officials.
Meghwal said that after he lodged the FIR against the accused on March 15, the other party also filed a counter-FIR against his family, accusing them of theft and other offences.
Three days after the FIR by Meghwal was lodged, the accused allegedly attacked his family and injured his mother and sister, on Friday.
“Despite the fact that we had informed the police and named the accused, no action was taken and the very same people entered our house yesterday morning and assaulted my mother and sister. There were 30-40 people and the assault was carried out by 10-15. They were abusing us with casteist slurs. My sister is pregnant but they beat her too. I suspect that they intended to kill me. At present, my mother and sister are admitted in hospital,” Meghwal told The Indian Express on Saturday.
After the assault on his family, Meghwal lodged another FIR on Friday and named Hukam Singh, Chandrabhan Singh, Narpat Singh, Setan Singh, Gopal Singh, Chandan Singh and Biji Singh. The FIR was registered under various sections of the IPC, including those pertaining to assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, extortion, unlawful assembly and voluntarily causing hurt.
The FIR was also registered under relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
A video of the attack along with his mother’s plea for help from the government has been widely circulated on social media, leading to criticism against the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan.
“Since a month, people from the aggrieved family were alerting the chief minister and the district administration about their concerns of assault on them but no action has been taken. Today some cowardly people attacked the mother and pregnant sister. Is this the way the Congress will do welfare of Dalits?” tweeted Bhim Army founder and Azad Samaj Party president Chandra Shekhar Azad.
The police said four people have been arrested in the matter.
“We had come to know about the case on March 14, when the complainant posted about it on his Twitter handle. Based on the information we had contacted him and registered an FIR on the very next day. The police also submitted a detailed report to the magistrate which issued summons to the accused persons and asked them to appear before it on March 22. The family was attacked on Friday morning. After the incident, we have arrested four people. Further investigation is being conducted,” said Pali SP Kalu Ram Rawat.
He added raids are being carried out in search of the other accused persons who are absconding.
“We have also posted guards at the home of the complaint, providing them police protection,” said Rawat.
Meghwal said he fears for the safety of himself and his family.
“Ever since the attack, we are living under fear. We suspect they might even kill us or force us to migrate to some other place. They have already threatened us that we will be ostracised from the village,” said Meghwal.