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UP Dalit couple killed over Rs 15: In poll season, grieving family gets help

From the boys’ two elder married sisters to the family of the shopkeeper accused of killing them, all want a piece of this reversal of fortune.

Written by Ishita Mishra | Mainpuri |
Updated: August 3, 2016 4:38:42 am
 uttar pradesh elections, uttar pradesh elections 2017, UP polls, uttar pradesh polls 2017, dalit votes, dalit couple hacked, up dalit couple beaten, dalit discrimination, up dalit atrocities, rs 15 dalit killing, indian express news, india news, dalit news Inside the Dalit family’s home in Lakhnipur. Source: Ishita Mishra

STILL recovering from the brutal hacking of a Dalit couple over Rs 15, Lakhnipur village is now adjusting to another news. Visiting Mainpuri Collector P C Gupta told them on Sunday that the three minor sons of the couple would together receive aid to the tune of Rs 32 lakh.

From the boys’ two elder married sisters to the family of the shopkeeper accused of killing them, all want a piece of this reversal of fortune.

Sunday was a busy day at the house of the Dalit couple, Bharat and Mamta, who were killed on July 28. Daughters Kiran, 21, and Milan, 18, were busy deciding which portions of their hut would be revamped from funds assured by the “collector saheb”. The two continue to stay at their parents’ home after marriage, and are now looking after their brothers.

The younger three, ages 14, 12 and 8, tried hard to hide their apprehension at the prospect of moving to a residential school, arranged for by the district administration.

The eight-year-old, Lalu, is the only one among the five children to have ever gone to school. He is in Class V.

The meagre possessions in the family hut include a broken cot, on the corner of which sleeps Kiran’s newborn child, some dirty utensils, and a few tattered clothes hanging from a rope. The door to the hut hangs by the hinges. Kiran’s husband Neeraj has spent the past few days running around to arrange money for a shanti paath (prayer ceremony) for his in-laws.

“This is all we have,” says Milan, pointing around the house. “My father also owned 1.5 bighas of land, but that is almost barren. He never had money to buy seeds, pesticides etc for farming so we worked on contract basis in the fields of others.”

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was the first to announce compensation, of Rs 5 lakh, from his relief fund, for the Dalit couple belonging to his family pocketborough. Since then, that relief money has grown to more than Rs 32 lakh, including Rs 10 lakh under the Kisan Beema Yojana, Rs 17 lakh under the SC/ST compensation rules, and Rs 30,000 under the family insurance scheme.

Bharat’s brother Ram Avtar, who lives in nearby Mohabbatpur village, calls it “nothing less than a miracle”. “This family hasn’t ever seen Rs 32 lakh. Even the two daughters were married in only Rs 50,000, which Bharat took from one of our relatives. They don’t even know what the money means.”

“Maa baap jo jeete jee na kar paate, woh mar kar kar gaye in bachchon ke liye. Aise hi hote hain maa-baap (What the parents couldn’t do in their lifetime, they have done in their death. This is how parents are),” approves Neeraj.

Kiran though is bitter. “Though we too have lost our parents, only my brothers will get all the money. Not us. In any case, we have to manage the money for their last rituals from our own pockets,” she says.

The compensation amount will be deposited in the bank accounts of the boys and they can access it after each turns 18.

Till then, the district administration has arranged for the boys’ schooling. “We have admitted them in a day boarding school in Bhogaon block of Mainpuri,” the Collector said.

National Commission for Scheduled Castes chairman P L Punia also visited them on Sunday.

Watching from the sidelines are the relatives of Ashok and Rajni Mishra, the shopkeeper couple who are in custody for allegedly killing Bharat and Mamta. Ashok is believed to have killed the two for not paying the Rs 15 owed to him over some biscuits, which they had bought for their children.

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“No one is asking about Ashok’s four minor kids, who too are now abandoned. Even their five married sisters are not willing to take them in,” laments a relative, Dolly, of Dehuli village, who is looking after the Mishra children now.

“Bacche to bacche hi hain, chahe marne wale ke hon ya maarne wale ke (Children are children, whether they are of one who dies, or one who kills),” she says.

Mainpuri SSP Mainpuri Dev Ranjan Verma said they are investigating Bharat’s family’s claims that Rajni and instigated her husband to hack the Dalit couple.

Preparing to move to the new school, Lalu is the most excited. “They said I will go to a big school now. I want to study,” he says.

Elder brothers Ranjeet and Rahul, 14 and 12, are just happy they may not have to work for food now, or go hungry at night. “Wo bole school mein hi rehna, khana sab milega. To soch rahe hain chale hi jayen (They said we will get everything, shelter, food, in school. So we are thinking there is no harm going),” says Rahul.

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