Four days after a mob lynched two Dalit men accused of raping and murdering a minor, nearly 20 Dalit families who fled from Parkham village in UP’s Mathura district told the police that they wanted to return to their homes.
“The Valmiki families who left the village approached us Friday and said they wanted to return. When the incident took place, they fled out of fear. But the village is their home and they want to come back. Some are likely to return on Saturday,” said station house officer Praveen Mann, the investigating officer in the case. He said most of them are staying with relatives in neighbouring villages.
On July 28, a mob lynched Shyam alias Lalua and Sonu Valmiki, a sweeper at Parkham railway station, after Lalua allegedly confessed to some villagers that the two had raped and killed a 12-year-old upper caste girl, Lali. While Lalua was killed in the attack, allegedly by the Thakurs in the village, Sonu was grievously injured and is admitted to a hospital in Agra.
Since then, armed policemen have been deployed at Parkham station on either side of which the Thakurs and the Valmikis live. According to Mann, the tension that prevailed in the village after the incident, is fading.
“Police will be deployed in the area when the villagers return so that they feel safe. We also have to ensure that nobody gives the incident a political colour and causes unrest. The villagers want is peace,” he said.
Rashtriya Lok Dal MLA from the Baldev constituency in which Parkham falls, said members of Valmiki committee had approached him. “They are still away. They said they wanted to return. They had their families and jobs in the village. They do all the cleaning work there like sweeping and cleaning nullahs. So the village also cannot do without them. We will ensure that they are allowed to return and everyone lives harmoniously.”
Lali’s father Mukesh Singh, an agricultural labourer, said he had no objection to the Valmiki families returning to the village. “We had nothing against them. They can come back if they want to. There is no tension in the village anymore,” he said.
However, he added that Sonu was not welcome in the village. “We don’t have any objection to his family returning. But those accused of brutalising my daughter should not be allowed to enter the village again,” he said.
Neeraj Thakur, a resident of Parkham said: “The police officers took rounds in the village on Friday and asked all the villagers if they had any objection to the Valmiki families returning and most people had no problem with that.”
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