Print edition : December 07, 2007

The Dulina lynching case, in which five Dalit men were killed by a mob in 2002, is still being heard.

in Gurgaon and Jhajjar

Rattan Singh and his wife, Ramwati, who lost a son in the Dulina lynchings, now sell toffees to feed themselves.-PHOTOGRAPHS: T.K. RAJALAKSHMI

Rattan Singh and

IN one of the most heinous crimes committed in recent times, on October 15, 2002, a mob lynched five young men, all Dalits, at Dulina in Jhajjar district of Haryana. It deprived five families of their breadwinners, orphaned little children and made widows of young wives on a day when the country was celebrating Dasara, which marks the victory of good over evil. In this case, however, evil is far from punished after five more Dasaras.

Three of the five victims traded in animal skins, as a caste occupation. The five were first beaten up by a group that claimed to have caught them slaughtering a cow on the Gurgaon-Jhajjar road, and then taken to the Dulina police post. Instead of protecting the five men from further assaults and arranging for medical attention, the police allowed a mob to assemble over three hours and then stood by as it lynched the men in the presence of scores of onlookers.

The inquiry report of R.R Banswal, Commissioner, Rohtak Range, submitted on December 5, 2002, castigated the role of the police. Parts of the report were released to the media a few months after the incident. The mob, the report said, was allowed to assemble and raise provocative, communal slogans accusing the five men of cow slaughter, which led to the lynching.

The report found several loopholes and contradictions in the versions given by the police, who claimed that they were outnumbered by the mob. It expressed doubts about the police claim on the size of the mob between 1,000 and 1,500. The report stated: It seems that the exaggerated number of the mob has been given by the police officers/officials in order to cover up lapses on their part.The act of the mob lynching the five persons was ghastly and crossed all limits of humanity. The police personnel failed to save the precious lives of five innocent persons from the cruel hands of the mobthe police officers were over-confident to defuse the situationthey did not take stern action against the violent mob and they only kept on pacifying and pushing the mob.

The report further noted: There was sufficient time to control the situation as the time of lynching of the persons was between 9.45 [p.m.] and 10.15 p.m. whereas the trouble started at 6.15 p.m. in the evening. The Duty Magistrates also did not act properly in the discharge of their duties; the Inspector-General of Police, Rohtak range, was present at the headquarters, but [was] not informed about the incident, and neither was a requisition for Rapid Action Force made.

The report does not, however, mention the fact that the districts Superintendent of Police and its Deputy Commissioner, himself a Dalit, were kept informed throughout the build-up through verbal transmission messages and phone calls but they arrived after the lynching. The Dulina police post is only 8 km away from Jhajjar town and is almost equidistant from the offices and residences of the S.P. and the D.C. The police force that was requisitioned from police lines, Jhajjar, at 8-43 p.m. did not reach the police post before 10 p.m.

Banswals report said that as the mob grew violent, the City Magistrate chose to go to a local factory to speak to the S.P. instead of giving instructions to the policemen dealing with the mob at the police post.

Chandro, another bereaved parent. Her son Tota Ram was among those lynched.-

Chandro, another bereaved

A former senior official with the Haryana government, requesting anonymity, said that the mob belonged to a particular community and any action against it would have invoked the wrath of the Indian National Lok Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party government.

The Dulina police post now lies abandoned. The families of the five victims have given up their hereditary skin trade. All the families received some monetary compensation from a spectrum of political parties. The next of kin in each family was given a government job as well. But every year, Dasara brings back memories of that terrible evening, memories that are all the more bitter because the bereaved families feel that justice has not been done to their dead.

The case is being heard in the court of Additional Sessions Judge, Jhajjar. According to the district attorney, some of the witnesses are still being examined and the investigating officers are yet to be examined. The next hearing is scheduled for December 2007.

But should the case, the bereaved families wonder, take so long to be resolved when the crime was committed in front of so many witnesses, including policemen?

It is the sixth year since the murder. Tell me, can this kind of incident be forgotten ever? said Rattan Singh, father of Virender, one of the victims. Virender was the sole breadwinner of the family. The family does not even know about the status of the case. Rattan Singh said he had gone to Jhajjar to attend one of the hearings. A tall constable told him that the case was over. Rattan Singh has learnt that the police arrested a number of teenagers for the crime. What about the police? No action has been taken against them for letting my son die, he said, weeping inconsolably. His wife, Ramwati, said, We asked for a CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] inquiry. Nothing happened. All the leaders from big political parties came, but there was no CBI inquiry. Virenders wife was given a job as a peon in a government school in Sohna. None of Rattan Singhs other sons is willing to trade in animal skin. It might happen again, said Rattan Singh, who held a licence for lifting dead animals in Sohna block.

Another victim, Daya Chand of Badshahpur village, was Rattan Singhs partner. Virender and Daya Chand worked together, lifting dead animals and buying and selling hides and bones. Daya Chands younger brother, Dal Chand, now runs a catering business. Weve stopped [dealing in] animal carcasses. There is too much risk now, he said, referring to the raids carried out by vigilante groups on State highways.

These groups are self-appointed custodians of cows. There is, for instance, the Gurukul at Jhajjar. It was set up 91 years ago on Arya Samaj principles, in response to Macaulays western education. The Gurukul manages two gaushalas (large cowsheds for stray and abandoned cows), one on its premises and the other on the Jhajjar-Rewari road. Shree Kishan Sharma, the office superintendent of the Gurukul, told Frontline that the organisation had carried out many cow rescue operations since the Dulina killings. We stop vehicles carrying slaughter animals towards Pataudi, to the Mohammedan areas. Sometimes we inform the police and then we rescue the animals, he said.

The Gurukul conducts five or six rescue operations in the area each year. According to Sharma and another office-bearer, Satyapal Upadhyaya, there are now fewer instances of animals being taken for slaughter after the Dulina lynching. The Gurukul played a crucial role in mobilising support for the men who got arrested on the suspicion of involvement in the lynching. A panchayat was held at the Gurukul premises, where police and other administrative officials assured the Gurukul heads that innocent persons would not be arrested.

He said that the Gurukul had organised a Sarvakhap, a kind of a mahapanchayat representing all castes. He explained: What could we do? People said, You are Aryasamajis, do something. So we had to take the initiative. Two daily-wage labourers, both lowly employees of the Gurukul, were among the 30 accused persons. When asked if he was aware of the two mens alleged role in the lynching, Sharma was non-committal: They may have been there, who knows. There were many people there. He added that the cow was a very sacred animal in those parts and the Gurukul encouraged each family to adopt at least one cow. He said that there was a lot of awareness among Hindus about the cow. No one, he said, would ever sell a cow to a Muslim.

Communal organisations may have played a role in the lynching, though this angle has not been examined adequately by the police. Banswal observed in his more-than-300-page report that at the time of the registration of the case, the police did not make it clear who was responsible for instigating the mob that set the victims four-wheeler on fire, torched a nearby hut and threw one of the victims into the fire, and carried out the lynching. The policemen who were questioned in the course of Banswals inquiry said three people, including the chairman of the Jhajjar Gaushala, instigated the mob; but their names were not in the first information report (FIR). The names of 14 men who brought the five Dalits to the police station after catching them in the act of killing a cow, and who were present throughout the lynching, did not figure in the original FIR either.

The government initiated a departmenal inquiry against 13 police personnel, including the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Jhajjar, and an Assistant Sub-Inspector who was in charge of the Dulina police post. These officers were denied two increments, and that was their only punishment. After the registration of the FIR covering at least seven sections of the Indian Penal Code including Section 302 (murder), the government set up a four-member special investigating team, which included the DSP and the ASI. None of the senior officials involved was suspended for what was a grave and deliberate dereliction of duty.

The Gurukul in Jhajjar is believed to have played a crucial role in mobilising support for the accused.-

The Gurukul in

The Dalit population is largely landless in Haryana and unrepresented in the upper echelons of government service. Despite this, one hears frequent allegations that Dalits corner most of the government jobs because of reservation. As of March 31, 2001, the total number of Scheduled Caste government employees was 59,684; 78 per cent of this number were class three and class four employees. Dalit representation in faculty positions at the major universities of the State is negligible.

Dulina happened five years ago. The new government led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda has not really proved itself to be a protector of the rights of the poor, including Dalits. There has been a spate of incidents involving violence against Dalits. The Scheduled Castes comprise 19.5 per cent of Haryanas population. No vigilance committees have been set up as per the rules of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. There is no separate record of crimes against women and Dalits in the State, said Inderjit Singh, State secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist). There is no State Human Rights Commission in Haryana, nor a State Scheduled Castes Commission.

The Dalit vote is substantial and cannot be ignored. That is perhaps one reason why the ruling Congress plans to hold a Dalit convention in Karnal on December 9. Facing accusations that atrocities against Dalits in the State have gone up, the party feels it is time to announce some more sops. By and large, the parties that have ruled the States, including the Opposition INLD, have never taken seriously atrocities against Dalits and their social and economic exclusion.

In that context, memories of Dulina are not likely to fade soon. Chandro, mother of the slain Tota Ram, said, No one comes here anymore. But I lost my son.

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