A 15-year-old Scheduled Caste boy was allegedly burnt to death after his goats ate the paddy crop of an upper caste man at Mohanpur village under Karakat police station in Rohtas on Wednesday evening.
The accused was arrested on Thursday and charged with murder as well as under provisions of the SC/ST Act. The victim belonged to the Mahadalit community.
This is the third incident of crime against Dalits in the past three weeks — six Dalit women were allegedly raped in Bhojour by three persons on October 9, and more than 150 Dalits were forced to flee a village in Gaya after a member of their community was killed in the last week of September.
The latest incident took place at 3 pm when Sai Ram, a Class VIII drop-out and the son of daily wage labourer Jiut Ram, was sitting at home with his mentally challenged brother Munna (18). The two were eating lunch, while their their three goats were grazing outside. The goats strayed into the field of Sanjay Singh alias Kunkun Singh (45), known to be an influential man in the village, and ate his standing paddy crop.
Singh drove the goats back to the village. Though goats belonging to other people had also eaten his crop, Singh allegedly singled out Jiut Ram’s house and approached the door, shouting expletives.
Munna opened the gate and Singh started beating him. When Sai Ram intervened, Singh started beating him. Neighbours, who were too afraid to step in, said Singh picked up a kerosene container and poured it on Ram Sai. He then set the boy on fire and left. The boy’s parents were at work at the time.
Sai, who was wearing a synthetic T-shirt, jumped into a nullah outside his house to save himself. He was taken to Bikramganj Sadar Hospital, where he succumbed late Wednesday evening. The autopsy was conducted late in the night at the district headquarters, Sasaram.
The boy’s mother, Sonamuni Devi, said, “Munna had gone out to feed the goats. When I returned, my son had been burnt. His face had turned black. My world is over.” The forensic team was yet to reach the spot.
“We have promptly taken action by arresting the accused,” Bikramganj DSP A K Das said.
Bihar CM Jeetan Ram Manjhi said, “There will be a speedy trial. I have asked the DGP to monitor the case”.
The village, which has 70 houses belonging to Dalits and 150 to Rajputs, has witnessed caste tension in the past as well.
On Thursday, the state government sent a Dalit leader to offer compensation of Rs 2.81 lakh to the victim’s father. However, Jiut Ram said, “What good is money now that my son is gone? We die here every day.”
The leader also faced the ire of villagers, who alleged that the government was not doing enough for Dalits.
This is second major incident of a caste clash in Sasaram after a Dalit was beaten to death at Baddi village on August 15, 2013 over unfurling of the national flag.