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Alwar killing: Mahapanchayat warns upper castes over Dalit’s death

The mahapanchayat warned police against any action against the community members who blocked roads and demonstrated after the death of the 16-year-old.

Written by Deep Mukherjee | Bhiwadi |
Updated: March 5, 2018 9:00:47 am
Alwar killing: Mahapanchayat warns upper castes over Dalit’s death At the home of 16-year-old Neeraj Jatav Sunday. (Photo: Deep Mukherjee)

A JATAV mahapanchayat held here on Sunday, drawing people from 18 villages near the Alwar-Haryana border, threatened to cut off association with upper castes over the killing of a 16-year-old boy on Holi.

Addressing the assembly of more than 300 people, former BSP leader Omprakash Jatav said, “Till how long will we tolerate this? Pagdi unke bandhte ho, samman unka karte ho, sab chodh do (You tie the turban of upper caste people, give them respect, stop doing all this).” Jatav is the state secretary of the Ambedkar Mission Sanstha, which is active in Bhiwadi.

Dharamveer Jatav, whose wife is a Congress councillor from Bhiwadi’s Ward 31, said, “It was decided at the mahapanchayat that if, even for a moment, we feel the administration is not supporting us and there are efforts to shield the accused, we will take to the streets.” The mahapanchayat also warned police against any action against the community members who blocked roads and demonstrated after the death of the 16-year-old.

Inside the narrow lanes of Jatav Basti, a Scheduled Caste settlement located in a corner of the industrial town of Bhiwadi, there is growing despair over the death of the boy.

A Class 9 student, Neeraj Jatav wanted to study further, unlike most youth of the locality, and was a hardworking boy who would help out his family by working part-time at a clothes store after school. According to eyewitnesses, around 2 pm on Holi day, Neeraj was standing along with brother Dilip and some friends near an area where music was being played in the village.

The accused allegedly objected to them playing music, hurled casteist abuses, and threatened to come back later. Around 2.30 pm, they reportedly returned with more people and attacked Neeraj and others, resulting in the 16-year-old’s death.

Eyewitnesses have testified that Neeraj was beaten up with sticks and that the accused fled when he collapsed. “They came on three motorcycles and in a car, armed with sticks. All of us were assaulted but Neeraj was beaten up the worst. The Gurjar boys later ran away,” says Ajay Jatav, who was also beaten up.

Neeraj’s family has filed an FIR alleging that he and his friends were abused with casteist slurs. “Of the six accused, we have arrested three, Vikas, 19, Dharmendra alias Golu, 20, and Satpal, 22, and detained a minor. A fifth person is being questioned and search is on for another accused,” said Narendra Meena, DySP, SC/ST Cell, Alwar.

Of the six accused, four are Gurjars, one a Brahmin and one belongs to the OBC Nai community. Two of them are minors.

Neeraj was the youngest of four children of Babulal Jatav, who drives a truck for a living. Staring blankly at the empty shelves in the room where Neeraj stayed, Babulal says, “Neeraj often said he wanted to do something for our community.”

Neeraj’s uncle Dharmendra Jatav says they are used to being abused by upper castes. But not this Holi. “We lost our son because Neeraj’s brother Dilip protested after he was abused.”

Most of the Jatavs here work as daily wage workers at either transport businesses or construction sites owned by the Gurjars.

The house of one of those arrested for Neeraj’s killing, Vikas Gurjar, 19, is located a couple of kilometres from the Jatav Basti. Reluctant to talk about what happened, relative Prakash Gurjar says, “The kids were playing Holi and there must have been some dispute. We don’t know what really happened.”

Some members of the Gurjar community have started rallying behind the accused. Gathered a few hundred metres from Vikas’s house, one of those present, who refused to identify himself, says, “All those who have been named have been falsely implicated and the Gurjar youth have nothing to do with this (killing).”

DySP Meena said Bhiwadi sees frequent crimes arising out of the caste divide. “Every month there are at least 10 cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes.”

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