After a long and peaceful march by thousands against the Supreme Court ruling on SC/ST Act verdict, and two hours after the dispersal of the participants, Rajasthan police opened fire and raided hundreds of huts in Dalit basti in Paturia of Alwar district in Rajasthan on April 2.
According to the fact-finding committee report submitted by Hannan Mollah, Polit Bureau member, and the team which visited the Dalit basti on April 13, the Rajasthan police, guided by a few men of upper caste in the village, committed these atrocities against Dalits causing death of a youth, bullet injuries to a few. The police also resorted to vandalizing the huts and destroying the property of the victims.
The fact-finding committee reached 8th ward of Paturia Basti, Khairthal Municipality in Alwar district on April 13 and interacted with the women, children, and men who gave an account of the police vengeful action.
One Shiv Charan, a resident of the basti, said that prior to the protest rally, a meeting was held in the basti, near Ambedkar Chowk, on March 31, to discuss the impact of the Supreme Court order on SC/ST Atrocities Act.
Shiv Charan added that on April 2, thousands of people marched in a long peaceful procession that took off at 7.30 am, covered the entire Municipal area, and reached Ambedkar Chowk at 12 noon.
He said that many shops downed shutters on seeing the procession and none was attacked by the participants. However, a few miscreants led by members of the Vypar Mandal burnt waste material in front of some shops and propagated that the shops were set on fire.
Following this incident, after two hours of dispersal of the procession, a large number of police, guided by one Vyapar Mandal leader and BJP person, entered the Patuaria Basti at 2 pm and attacked the Dalit basti.
According to the residents of the basti, the police broke open into their houses and thrashed them with lathis leaving women and girls severely injured.
The committee found that about one hundred huts were attacked by police and took custody of the men and boys of the basti after beating them black and blue. Police cases have been booked against the Dalits on false accusations of burning shops, throwing stone pelting on villagers, attacking the police etc.,
The team, during their visit to the basti, have noticed broken doors and windows vandalized rooms and broken furniture and household things including TV sets, refrigerators, radios etc., It was also observed that the lane next to the Dalit basti, habited by upper caste people, was left untouched by the police.
The Dalits claim that upper caste men living next to the basti conspired against them. They also added that one BJP leader was with the police and helped them in identifying the houses and people in the basti.
The Dalits demanded justice including severe punishment to the culprits, immediate release of all the arrested based on false accusations, repealing of false cases and compensation for their damaged properties.
The team has also noted that not a single MLA or MP from the BJP have visited the victims and instead, instigated the police and upper caste men against them. It took statements from nearly 12 women from the basti.
The team went to Alwar to meet the district administration. However, in spite of prior intimation, neither the Collector nor the Superintendent of Police was available in their offices. The fact-finding committee met with the Additional Collector and expressed their displeasure on the absence of the officers. They shared their learning with the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) and said that the attackers and the police conspired against the Dalits and worked in vengeance.
The team was informed that a video collected by the police has evidence against the accused responding to which the team said that most of the arrested were not present in the video and all the innocent be released. The ADM agreed to the demands and assured that compensation for the damages will be given after the investigation.
Com. Amra Ram expressing his sympathy to the victims announced that a protest day will be observed on April 17 and rally will be organized at district-level.
The fact-finding team included Somaprasad, MP, Amra Ram, Sumitra Chopra, Sanjay Madhab, Rayeesha, Basant Haryana, Paban Behniwal, Pankaj Sawariya, Amita Jatab, Sher Singh, Roshan Gujjar and Sumit Roy.
Dalit youth, Pawan Kumar Jatab was shot to death in the police firing at the Paturia Dalit basti. He had two bullets on his head as police opened fire against men for rallying against the Supreme Court verdict on SC/ST Act. According to the fact finding committee, three more men received bullet injuries in the attack.
The team visited Jharoli village, about 10 km from the basti, and met the family members of Pawan. It was learned that Pawan, a UPSC aspirant, was a post-graduate, MCom; BEd, and was teaching in an institution. His older brother works as a compounder and father, Jallaram Jatav, was the Sarpanch of the village.
The body of Pawan was not cremated for two days until the authorities promised impartial inquiry and compensation . But, till this date no action has been taken. The ADM said that a proposal has been sent to the government regarding the compensation and will be expedited.
Two other boys who took bullets to their heads, Shekhar and Sher Singh are admitted to hospital.
The team member consoled them and assured them to fight for their cause. They assured that their issues will be taken to the administration and shall be raised in the Parliament.
Sunita Devi’s son from Ward No 7 of the Dalit basti, a Class 11 student, was barred from sitting for the final exam, by the police. According to her, the police thrashed and took her son and husband into custody. She gave an application requesting the officials to allow her son to sit for the final exam. Initially, the police asked her to deposit Rs 12,800 for providing the police escort for her son to the examination hall with three guards. After she deposited the amount, the police demanded SP’s written order and ultimately the boy could not sit for the exam. The uncle of the boy, Rajpal, a tent shop owner, seconded her statements. He reiterated that the local BJP MLA and other leaders planned the attacks.