Kin of the four members of a Dalit family who were killed in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj on Thursday have alleged that an upper-caste Hindu family is responsible for the heinous crime.
Phoolchand Pasi, a 50-year-old Dalit labourer, his wife 40-year-old Meenu, 10-year-old son Shiv and 16-year-old daughter Sapna were murdered in Gohri village of Soraon Vidhan Sabha of Prayagraj. The minor girl was allegedly gang-raped before her death.
While talking to NDTV, a kin of the deceased said that a land dispute with an upper-caste family that had been festering since 2019 and the Dalit family had been assaulted by them (upper-caste) in September.
Family members while talking to politicians who visited them, said that the upper-caste family members had threatened Phoolchand’s family a few days ago.
In 2019 and 2021, the deceased family had filed an SC/ST case against the upper-caste Hindus of the village itself, confirmed Sarvashrestha Tripathi, the Prayagraj police chief.
“Initial information suggests that in 2019 and 2021 they (Dalit family) had filed cases under the SC/ST Act against some people related to a land dispute. The family alleged there was no headway in these cases. We will take strict action,” Tripathi said in a video statement.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi who visited the family also told reporters that the women of the family had told her that they had flagged a threat to their lives in September this year as well as in 2019.
The cops, according to the family member, were trying to force the Dalit family to a compromise.
“The police were forcing the murder victims to compromise. Sushil Kumar (a police constable) used to come to us and pressure us to compromise. The police used to sit at their (accused) homes. The local inspector also told us to compromise,” NDTV quoted the family member as saying.
Even senior police officer Tripathi also noted that the deceased Dalit family had accused police of not taking action against the upper-caste Hindus in the earlier cases.
“The allegation of not taking any action in earlier cases is also alleged by the family of the deceased. Keeping all these in mind, action is being taken, some people have also been taken to custody,” Tripathi told reporters.
The family member also alleged that on 21 September, the members of the Dalit family were beaten up by upper-caste Hindus. Though they approached cops soon after the incident, an FIR was filed only after a week. A counter FIR was also filed against the Dalit family too.
Relatives, locals protest
Irked over the gruesome murders, the Dalits in the village did not allow the local police to take the bodies for postmortem for hours.
They demanded action against the police officers who did not act on the named complaints lodged by the deceased family before death.
They later relented after the intervention of senior police officers and allowed the police to take the bodies for autopsy.
The senior cops and district authorities gave relatives of the deceased a written assurance to look into their demands of Rs 15 lakh economic assistance, patta land, arms licence and security to the kin of the deceased, Times of India reported.
Dalits not safe in Yogi’s UP
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati on Saturday termed the recent murder of four members of a Dalit family in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj as shameful and blamed the poor law and order situation under the BJP government for the incident.
In a series of tweets in Hindi, the tall Dalit politician Mayawati said, “Very sad and shameful murder of four people of a Dalit family in Prayagraj, UP recently. This incident also shows the poor law and order of the government. It seems that the BJP is also following in the footsteps of the SP government in this matter.”
“A BSP delegation led by Babulal Bhanwra who visited after the incident has said that there is a tremendous terror of miscreants in Prayagraj, due to which this incident has also happened. BSP demands that strict action is taken against the guilty,” she added.
AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who reached Prayagraj on Friday to meet members of Dalit family, alleged that there is “no justice for Dalits, farmers, women and minorities under the present government.”
Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan said the latest killings of Dalits in Uttar Pradesh was held under the protection of power.
“How many more corpses shall we lift, Mr Yogi? It was only one year after the Hathras gangrape that now a mother and daughter were raped and murdered in UP’s Prayagraj. A total of four members were hacked to death with an axe,” Azad tweeted.
“Under the protection of power, the goons massacre the Dalits. This repression has to be answered,” Azad said.
“We most strongly condemn the brutal killings of four members of a Dalit family in Allahabad making Uttar Pradesh under CM Yogi Adityanath a Jungle Raj,” tweeted Tribal Army.
Soon after the tragic killings, the police had registered an FIR under the IPC sections for murder and gangrape, among others, as well as sections of the SC/ST Act and POCSO Act.
The accused are Akash Singh, Babli Singh, Amit Singh, Ravi, Manish, Abhay, Raja, Ranchu, Kuldeep, Kanha Thakur and Ashok.
The case was lodged against 11 named persons.
Tripathi said: “Eight of the 11 named accused persons have been arrested. Two are in Mumbai and teams have been deployed to trace and arrest them, while one accused is in a hospital. We will probe the case from all possible angles and will arrest all accused.”