A retired District and Sessions judge from Haryana has prepared a report on Dalit atrocities in the state’s Nuh (earlier called Mewat) district and submitted it to the state government.
The judge, Pawan Kumar, told this correspondent over the phone that “Aurangzeb-like brutal atrocities are being committed against Dalits in Mewat”.
The Nuh (or Mewat) district is the only Muslim-majority district in Haryana, and is notorious for criminal activities. The 2011 census recorded its population as comprising 80 percent Muslims and 20 percent Hindus.
Kumar said that on 31 May, he along with three other persons spent a day at Mewat where they talked to several Dalit villagers and recorded their testimonies.
“I was approached by Pran Ratnakar, who is general secretary of one Valmiki Mahasabha of Haryana. He expressed grave concern about the situation of Dalits in Mewat and requested me to prepare a report. We then formed a four-member committee comprising two people from Scheduled Castes and two people from general caste for an impartial report,” Kumar, who also belongs to Valmiki (SC) caste, said.
Other members were Sultan Singh, president of Valmiki Mahasabha of Haryana; Devdutt Sharma, advocate and president of Sohna Bar Association; and Kanhaiya Lal, vice-president of Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Haryana.
Kumar said that what he learnt in his visit has left him shocked.
Before sharing the details, he said that whatever he has written in his report is based on recorded witness statements and documents. “I have been a judge. You know that I can’t write a single line that’s not backed by some evidence,” he said.
While Kumar didn’t share the report with this correspondent, saying it was “confidential”, he shared a summary that he has prepared for the media.
He said that the committee had identified 48 people for testimonies, but only 19 turned up. About four-five of them were women. “The rest didn’t come out of fear,” he said.
“Barbaric, inhuman atrocities are being committed on Dalit women in Mewat,” said Kumar, and listed seven cases.
- At the village Ferozepur Namak, a woman was abducted under the pretext of a job offer. For several days, nine Muslims including one Yusuf gangraped her. A named-FIR against the perpetrators was registered under IPC section 376 (rape), but the police did not take any action. The woman was admitted to a hospital after which she was killed. The police took no action in this FIR either, which was filed under IPC section 302 (murder), and instead passed it off as suicide.
- A Dalit girl from Mewali village was abducted by a boy named Sajid on 8 February, 2020; the girl has not been traced till date.
- One Nizam, son of Isar, along with his accomplices, abducted a Dalit girl at gunpoint. An FIR was registered but the girl was forced to make a statement that she had eloped and married at her own will and converted to Islam.
- In Mewat villages, Dalit girls are routinely molested on streets. Obscene acts are committed in their presence, and attempts are made to abduct them. Due to this, the Dalit girls either do not go to school or even if they go, they give up their studies midway. A Dalit girl from Sheikhpur village has been missing for the past several months.
- At the time of marriage of a Valmiki woman from village Siroli, 15 Muslim men beat up the bridegroom. They tried to abduct the bride but the village youths managed to stop them.
- Demolishing and looting of marriage pavilions on the occasion of marriage of Dalit girls has become a common occurrence in Mewat.
- One Junaid from Ghasera village kidnapped the mother of two children, and forcibly married her. He is now pressuring both her minor girls to convert to Islam. The father even makes the girls watch obscene messages on his phone.
- A minor Dalit girl of Nuh village was kidnapped and gangraped by four Muslim men. This abominable crime was committed in the house of a Muslim policeman. There has been no action in the FIR which was registered on 7 July, 2019.
The judge then listed out six cases of alleged atrocities on Dalit men:
- Ramjilal, a resident of village Bichhor, was brutally beaten up by one Iqbal, who is father of the woman sarpanch of that village. Iqbal, along with his accomplices, cut open Ramjilal’s stomach, filled it with cotton and burnt him alive. No action was taken even after the registration of named FIR. The police declared it to be a death due to lightning bolt.
- On 20 April, 2020, one Haneef, along with his 10-12 accomplices, kidnapped a Dalit youth from his home at village Chundika. They beat up the youth with rods and sticks and left only when they thought he was dead. Despite registration of FIR, no action has been taken so far. Instead, pressure is being built on the complainant to retract or they would face a false case. That Dalit boy's only fault was that he had asked for his borrowed money back.
- The plots allotted to the Dalits in village Kiranj were captured by Kamruddin, along with his accomplices, and till date no action has been taken on the complaint of the victims.
- On April 21, 2020, Atees along with his 10-15 accomplices, blocked the way of one Rahul, who is resident of village Puleta. The group hurled caste slurs at him and assaulted his family. The police overlooked the provisions of the SC/ST Act without investigation and did not take any action.
- On April 7, 2020, one Asif thrashed Yogesh, a resident of village Nagina, with a stick at the latter’s chemist shop, while Sakir took away Rs 22,200 from his drawer at gunpoint. Despite the FIR, no action has been taken.
- Yunus was distributing ration at his shop at Bisru village, where 25-30 men were standing there as a crowd. Vinod, a Dalit boy, who works as a watchman, asked them to maintain social distancing to prevent spread of COVID-19. But then one Arif abused him with caste slurs. The police have not taken any action yet.
The judge also said that out of some 500 villages in Mewat, 103 have become totally devoid of Hindus while 82 villages have only four-five Hindu families left. Kumar said that these figures are based on statements by villagers.
He also narrated a case of a Dalit youth named Pravin from Nangal Mubarikpur village who was “tricked” to become a Muslim and now his wife and children are being pressured to convert too.
“As many as 205 Valmiki families have converted to Islam by force since 1996,” he said, adding that this number, again, is based on statements by villagers.
In the conclusion, the report says, “It is the conclusion of this inquiry committee that the life of Dalit community in Mewat today has become thorny and unbearable. Their religion, their real-estates and wealth, dignity of their womenfolk and nothing else are safe today. Even after 73 years of independence, they have not been truly independent…”
The report also says that such atrocities are not possible without the collusion of the police administration.
Kumar said that the committee has sent the report to state chief minister ML Khattar and National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC).
The report recommends action against police officers under whose nose such atrocities are taking place, and also recommends probe by the NCSC.
Devdutt Sharma, advocate and president of Sohna Bar Association, told this correspondent that there was an urgent need to make the police accountable.
“Most of the official staff are, in fact, Hindus, but they either take bribe to cover up the cases or are too scared to take action,” Sharma said.
He also said that the 2011 census figures don’t reveal the current demographic reality of Mewat. “If a census is carried out today, it would show Hindus as less than 15 percent. Most of these Hindus are poor Dalits who are unable to move out for lack of money,” he said.
It is pertinent to mention that a week before this report, senior members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), along with members of various social and religious organisations of Haryana, had met CM Khattar over “anti-national and anti-Hindu activities in Mewat”.
Read some of this correspondent’s past reporting from the Mewat district here:
Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.
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