Press Release and Report on
"Dalit Houses Burnt Down in Haryana"
New Delhi, 4 September 2005
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) condemns the looting and burning of Dalit houses at Gohana in Haryana. An NCDHR delegation comprising Mr. N. Paul Divakar, Dr. Vimal Thorat, Dr. Umakant and Ms. Shabnam Hashmi from ANHAD met Mr. Ahmad Patel, the Political Advisor to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the President of Indian National Congress, on 3 September in New Delhi and apprised him about the situation in Gohana. Later on a meeting with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Ms. Selja, the Union Minister for Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation along with Mr. Ahmad Patel was also arranged wherein the aforesaid delegation urged Mrs. Gandhi to ensure justice for the helpless Dalits.
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) has demanded the followings from the Central Government:
The gory incidents which unfolded in Gohana this week is a testimony to the fact that social norms in India are still governed by the obscurantist ideology of caste system which has always oppressed the wretched of the earth – the Dalits. A Fact Finding team of NCDHR led by its National Convenor, Mr. N.Paul Divakar, Dr. Vimal Thorat, Dr. Umakant, Rajesh Angral and Ms. Shabnam Hashmi from ANHAD and Ms. B.Curie from Human Rights Law Network and some others visited Gohana on 2 September 2005. The Fact Finding team found gross negligence on part of the District Administration and Police at Sonepat under whose jurisdiction Gohana falls. The willful negligence and also on many occasion the complicity of police further abetted the inhuman acts on the helpless Dalits who were forced to flee from their houses. It was very clear that the Administration and Police allowed a strong mob of Jats to go on rampage thereby ransacking, looting and burning of Dalit houses in Gohana. As per Police own version that they were helpless in front of a strong mob of 1500-2000 Jats, is highly untenable as they could have requisitioned additional Police force from neighbouring District which as a matter of fact is not very far from Gohana.
- Immediate action by the Government under Section 4 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, against the Deputy Commissioner, the Senior Superintendent of Police and the Deputy Superintendent of Police and other others for their willful negligence in providing protection to Dalits and their property and their complicity in the rioting incident.
- The Government should create confidence in the Dalit communities as well as the wider society by:
- Creating a safe environment for Dalits
- Deployment of armed police in the Basti
- Making immediate arrangements for return of Dalit families who had fled from their houses.
- Accurate enumeration of damage and loss of property of the affected Dalit families.
- Ensure appropriate relief package reaches all the affected Dalit families.
- Ensure complete rehabilitation package to compensate the loss not only to build their houses but also to provide financial assistance and other facilities to restart their livelihood.
- Immediate arrest of the culprits who indulged in ransacking, looting and burning of Dalit houses.
- A CBI Enquiry to know the true story behind the gory and terrorist attacks on the Dalit (Balmiki Basti). The terms of reference for the CBI enquiry should also include the role of the Police and the Administration.
- A White Paper by the Central Government should be tabled in the winter session of the Parliament on the growing atrocities, untouchability and other multiple forms of exclusion and discrimination faced by Dalits.
Dalits who have lost every thing as a result of the mayhem perpetrated by the Jats have also lost their faith in the State Government of Haryana. It is very simple to pass the buck on to the Opposition Party for creating situation like this to settle political rivalry between the Congress and the BJP. The fact that only two persons have been arrested so far out of the 23 named in the FIR also shows that there is lack of political will on part of the Congress Government in Haryana. In recent times Haryana has witnessed many cases of atrocities on Dalits. The memories of Jhajjar has still not faded from the conscience of those who stand to defend the Human Rights of Dalits. The terrorist attack on Balmiki Basti was a very systematic one. The perpetrators had come fully armed with spears, batons, axes, petrol and kerosene oils. They broke TV sets, refrigerators, washing machines, looted the valuables and burst LPG cylinders. This operation lasted for about 3 to 4 hours and that too in the presence of the police which preferred to remain a silent spectator.
Four days have passed and the immediate relief has not been accessed by the victims as of 4 September, 2005. There are no victims in the relief camp organized by the state machinery. Ten victims have been distributed Rs. 5000 cheques which have been rejected by them and the cheques have been handed back to the authorities.
Appropriate assessment of the damage has not yet been enumerated by the authorities. Therefore the indications are that the rehabilitation if left to the state government will neither be adequate nor reach the victims. In the light the inept handling the Gohana crisis by the State Government of Haryana, NCDHR would therefore suggest the following:
- Handing over of the case to the CBI for a proper investigation
- Direct handling of the relief and rehabilitation by the Central Govt.
- An unbiased civil society organization representing Balmiki community and the victims be requested to enumerate the loss to property.
- Rebuilding the houses and allocating sufficient resources directly to the victims to immediately make the burned houses habitable.
(N. Paul Divakar)
(J. Vincent Manoharan)
Dalit Houses Burnt Down at Gohana in Haryana: A Preliminary Fact Finding Report