For the 80 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel deployed in Haryanas Mirchpur village,there is virtually nothing to protect but empty houses and deserted streets. More than two years after communal clashes forced around 175 Dalit families to flee the village,a large number of their houses still remain locked as an uneasy calm prevails here.
In April,2010,a large number of Jats attacked the Dalit locality and burnt houses,resulting in the death of 70-year-old Tara Chand and his physically challenged daughter Suman. The Supreme Court,while hearing a petition in this regard,recently slammed the Haryana government and directed it to submit a report detailing the actions it has taken for the affected Dalit families. A team,appointed by the apex court,visited Mirchpur on Monday to assess the plight of the Dalits.
Most of those who fled,however,are yet to return and have been camping at various locations in and around Hisar,while their houses have been reduced to rubble. Only a few youngsters and a bunch of families visit their homes,particularly during the monsoon.
We cannot even imagine living here. We have no other place to live so we have put up tents by the road which become inhabitable during the monsoon as water enters them. We come to our houses in the village after the rains to clean the area,stay for a couple of days and then move out again. The Jats of our village have threatened not to let us live here at any cost. It is only because of the CRPF that we even dare to come, said Krishna,who along with her sons Sonu (12) and Monu (10) visited their house and then left. Local politician Ved Pal Tanwar has accommodated 100 of the affected families at his farmhouse in Hisar.
What has made it worse for the Dalits,most of whom are labourers,is that the land owners in the village have stopped employing them. We used to work in the fields owned by Jats and earn our livelihood. After April,2010,they have stopped employing us. They have started getting labourers from Bihar and other villages around Mirchpur. We have been reduced to live like beggars, said Sanjay Kumar,another Mirchpur Dalit.
It is the CRPFs presence that leads to some sort of normality in the village. There are around six CRPF posts in and around the village with 60 personnel lodged at the village school ready to meet any exigency. The Haryana Police has also set up a police post on the outskirts of the village to avert any untoward incident. There is nothing we can do. The district administration and state government have reconstructed the houses that were damaged in April 2010 but nobody lives in them. It is only because the CRPF is deployed here that the Jats are not reacting. The day the CRPF moves out,and if we are found in our houses,we will be killed, said Sajna,a Dalit leader of Mirchpur village.
The state government has even reconstructed the house owned by Tara Chand,who died in the arson,but nobody lives here. The village mostly bears a deserted look. It is only after the rains that a few families return and clean their houses of waterlogging that is a major problem in this part of the village. We do our duty in shifts and have to be alert round-the-clock. One never knows when the situation will escalate and take an ugly turn, a CRPF personnel told The Indian Express.
To add to the Dalit woes,the villages sewerage system has been built in such a way that waste from the Jat houses flow through Dalit homes. The area where we have our houses becomes a complete mess during the rains. All the waste from Jats houses pass through the drains that ultimately end up in two ponds on the side of our houses. Our children are frequently affected by communicable diseases, said Sonu,another resident.