Two Dalit children, a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, were allegedly beaten to death for defecating in the open in Bhavkhedi village of Shivpuri district in Madhya Pradesh Wednesday morning.
Police said they have arrested two brothers — Hakim Yadav and Rameshwar Yadav — from the village in Sirsod police station limits, about 15 km from the district headquarters. The boy’s father, Manoj Valmiki, told police in his complaint the brothers objected to his son Avinash and sister Roshni defecating in the open near their house and beat them to death with sticks.
Police have booked the two brothers under IPC Section 302 (murder) and Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. According to Collector Anugraha P, the village had earlier been declared open defecation free.
But Valmiki told reporters that they did not have a toilet at home. He alleged that caste discrimination was rampant in the village and that his family had to often wait near the local hand pump before being allowed to take water.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath described the incident as “heart-rending” and ordered that security be provided to the family.
In his complaint, Valmiki said he was chatting with his father and brother outside their house around 6.40 am when the incident happened.
“Rameshwar and Hakim, armed with sticks, ran towards the children asking why they were defecating on the road. Rameshwar hit Roshni on the back of her head twice and once across her eyes. Hakim hit my son twice on the head. He lay in a pool of blood,’’ Valmiki, a 35-year-old daily wage worker, told police. “When the family members reached the spot both the children were dead,” he told police.
According to Valmiki, Roshni is the youngest of his six siblings and has been staying with him since the death of their mother four years ago.
Valmiki told reporters that there was previous enmity between him and the brothers, linked to a dispute two years ago when he had cut the branch of a tree near a field owned by them. At the time, he said, the brothers had threatened him.
Senior police officers, meanwhile, came up with conflicting versions of the incident.
Speaking to The Indian Express, IG (Gwalior Range) Rajababu Singh said Hakim appeared to be mentally unstable. He claimed that Hakim and Rameshwar killed the two children when they were on their way to their grandfather’s home, and denied that the incident was linked to open defecation.
Shivpuri SP Rajesh Chandel said there was no old enmity between the two families and that police did not have any proof yet to confirm that Hakim was mentally unstable.
DSP (HQ) Veerendra Tomar said the crime appeared to have been committed in the heat of the moment.
According to the Collector, Valmiki’s family has been provided monetary assistance of Rs 50,000, and another Rs 10,000 to conduct the children’s last rites. The family will also receive Rs 4 lakh in compensation under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, she said.