(Left) Arun and his uncle Premchand near their house in Teela Nadgram on 6 February

What happened in Agra's Mantola locality this week is what is commonly described as a 'petty' communal clash. There was a minor altercation which later led to a organised attack on a Dalit basti.

Mantola is a typical UP village, with its ground water polluted by illegal slaughter houses and factories. It lies within five kilometers from the Taj Mahal.

Some years ago the locality is said to have been inhabited by over 400 Dalit families. Today the number is 100. Many have left out of fear and out of exhaustion from unrelenting but low level conflict with a large Muslim neighborhood near-by.

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Clashes have been recorded through the last few years. At-least one local leader representing the cause of Dalits has been killed in the ceaseless violence. Meanwhile, Mantola continues to burn. The Dalit residents fear they will all have to leave the village eventually.

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