In a recent incident, a poor Dalit family of four was set on fire by their neighbours in Bihar’s Katihar district. The two children died while their parents are battling for life at a hospital.
It is being reported that the gruesome incident took place over the fallout of a dispute that the Dalit family had with some of their neighbours. Reportedly, the Dalit couple had built their thatched house over a piece of unoccupied government land and were running a tea shop to earn a living. Some of their neighbours were pressurising them to evict the house but the couple had been resisting all the demands. The dispute took place over a piece of unoccupied government land. Police officials have confirmed that the family’s thatched house was set afire on Saturday night while the family was sleeping. While the couple sustained serious burn wounds and were rushed to the hospital, their daughters, five-year-old Priti and three-year-old Kiran, died inside the house.
One of the victims, Manjula Devi has claimed that a person named Mujlim had been eyeing their land for almost a year. According to her, Mujlim had pressurised the Dalit family every now and then to vacate the land. He had extended death threats to the family last Sunday by stating that he would kill the family if the land is not vacated. It seems that in pursuance of this threat, petrol was used to set the house of the Dalit family afire at twelve in the night when the victims were fast asleep. Reportedly, two suspects have been arrested in the case while eight others are absconding.
It has been reported that two neighbours, Abdul Rehman and his wife have been arrested in connection with the heinous crime. Katihar SP, Vikas Kumar who visited the village on Monday and spoke to local people, confirmed that the dispute ensued over a piece of disputed land and that two suspects have been arrested while others are absconding. This comes on the heels of another shocking incident concerning Dalit atrocities. Earlier this month, it had been reported that houses of Dalits were torched in Tejaswi Yadav’s constituency. Raghopur, where the incident took place, is said to be a Yadav-dominated region and there is a history of atrocities on Dalits by “politically powerful” Yadavs in the region. Tejaswi Yadav who otherwise remains vocal about Dalit atrocities while targeting the Modi government, remained tight lipped about this issue as if nothing had happened.
The mainstream media and the so called pro-Dalit politicians are maintaining disturbing silence about the issue, and no one has come out and sympathised with the Dalit family. The grand alliance which does not seem to be materialising in a big way now seems to be further handicapped by the fact that it is unable to stitch the Muslim-Dalit social coalition on which its prospects depend. There have been a flurry of Dalit-Muslim clashes in which Dalits have almost always been the victims of atrocities. This recent phenomenon has serious political ramifications. The Modi baiters have traditionally been dependent on a Muslim-Dalit alliance which was seen an impeccable winning combination. But now with changes in social equations, Dalits seem to be not only accepting but becoming loyal voters of the BJP. If this trend continues, the grand alliance is set to face an embarrassing defeat at the hands of BJP.