After violence against Balmikis, petition filed asking the Court to frame and implement a scheme to provide adequate protection to Scheduled caste families so that they are not under threat in the future
Jaswant & Ors v. State of Haryana & Ors. Synopsis Jaswant & Ors v. State of Haryana & Ors. demands that the Balmiki families who are currently residing in Balmiki Temple, Panchkuain Road, New Delhi to be arranged accommodation of approx. 150 victim families. It has also demanded payments of Rs. 10000/- each month for maintenance, rehabilitation of Balmiki families by relocating them to Talwandirana, Haryana and to provide them with all the necessary facilities, to reconstruct all the destroyed/damaged of the Balmiki families by making bricks/ stone masonry house at government cost, to cancel all gun licenses of all the dominant families in Village Mirchpur. The petitioners pray to frame and implement a scheme to provide adequate protection to Scheduled caste families so that they are not under threat in future. Status The state government has all along been taking remedial relief rehabilitation and building confidence measures, ever since the occurrence of the incident on 21.04.2010. The progress in this regard is being monitored at the Government level on daily basis. The latest position with respect to relief and rehabilitation are as follows: 48 persons who were accused had already been arrested at the time of the visit of the Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Police have arrested more 7 persons after the visit of the Committee. The police deployment in the Village Mirchpur has been continued and the transfers of officials having long stay have been shifted out of the Police Station Narnaud. Senior district functionaries have been visiting the village and holding meetings with the village respectable from all the communities in order to facilitate the bridge-building between various communities in the village. For the reconstruction of the damaged houses, an additional amount of Rs 13.68 lakhs were placed at the disposal of the District Administration. Description Background On 19th April 2010, while passing through Balmiki Basti in Village Mirchpur some young persons of the Jat community threw brickbats on a barking dog which let to tussle between young persons of the two communities. This small controversy took an unexpected serious turn in the morning of 21st April 2010 when a number of the Jat community reportedly attacked the houses of Balmiki community. The local police and Administration did expect the incident of 19th April turning into a serious violence between two communities on 21st April 2010. The undercurrent of hatred and revenge ran deep and it was clearly manifested when the controversy over barking dog turned into a pre-planned attack by Jat community over Balmiki community in Village Mirchpur. The dominant caste indulged in violence to prove their dominance over the hapless Balimiki community, who are traditionally inferior in social strata. The Balmiki persons called the Station House Officer (SHO). The SHO sent 4 constables. When more dominant caste started gathering, then Balmiki men again called the SHO. The SHO and the Naib Tehsildar came with 4 more constables, at about 8 am. They went to the dominant caste group and asked all the Balmiki to come to Balmiki Chaupal for a compromise. The dominant caste persons who were standing in the lane nearby were surrounded by the Balmiki Chaupal. About 1000 dominant caste, along with at least 30-40 women beat the Balmiki and went to their houses, looted them and burnt them. More than 25 houses were razed to the ground and looted. The women were carrying kerosene. In one of the houses which were burnt, a handicapped girl, Suman who was in a wheelchair, tried to escape. The dominant caste pushed her inside and burnt her. When her father, Tara Chand went to save her, men poured kerosene on him as well and burnt him. The looting and burning carried on for more than 3 hours. The fire brigade arrived at 12:30 pm. The SP and DC also came with the fire brigade. The media people also came. FIR was lodged on the same day. SHO Vinod Kajal and Naib Tehsildar Jaagi Ram were named but their names were not registered on the FIR. A second report was lodged naming the SHO and Naib Tehsildar. In view of the FIR, protest, and media coverage, 29 accused persons were arrested. Following the arrest, a Maha Khap Panchayat was organized in Village Mirchpur, demanding the release of the arrested persons. Fearing further atrocities by the dominant castes, the 150 Balmiki families left their village for Hisar. The 150 Balmiki families sat the DC office demand for rehabilitation, relocation at Talwandirana, a village in Haryana, compensation and adequate punishment for all the culprits for destroying their livelihood, homes and looting their entire life’s savings. The brutal atrocity was covered extensively by the media and the news appeared in National dailies. In the meanwhile, several Khap Panchayat were held, where the dominant caste demanded Balmikis to take back their complaint and reach for a compromise. Repeated threats were also given by persons from dominant caste to victims of schedule caste community of further dire consequences. The Administration has not taken any further action for providing rehabilitation, compensation to the victims. They were left to fend for their own selves. The Dalit Community of the Mirchpur village under fear and threats have lost faith in the administration. Most of them left the village and currently taken shelter in Balmiki Temple on Panchkuain Road, New Delhi. Current status That being aggrieved against the inaction of the respondents the petitioner filed another petition inter alia on the following grounds: Out of 43 named and 300-400 unnamed persons, only 29 persons have been arrested and remaining are still at large. No attempt has been made by the authorities to arrest the remaining. Proper estimation of the damage (physical or psychological) to the Dalits has not been done and the relief and rehabilitation package that has been announced for the houses is 1 lakh while the damage is much more. No inquiry has been taken against the 20-25 police officials present at Narnaud Police station. Moreover, important evidence has been destroyed. A perusal of the FIR will show that the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was not included except for Sec. 3(1). Strict action needs to be taken to the police officials of Narnaud Police station and at the Mirchpur carnage site, for negligence and dereliction of duty and for abetment of crime by the administrative authorities. Strict action needs to be taken against Vinod Kajal, SHO and Naib Tehsildar, Jage Ram for clearly laying down a conspiracy with the dominant caste to call the Scheduled Caste men to the Chaupal and then attack them from the back, surround the Schedule caste houses and burn and destroy their property, while the police officials would stand and watch When Balmiki men and women approached the SHO on 20.04.2010 fearing that some atrocity might take place, the police officials did not register any complaint and refused to provide them with any police protection. At least 10-12 police officials were present at the time and place of the incident along with the SHO and Naib Tehsildar on 21.04.2010. When the women approached the police officials asking them for protection, when the dominant caste men and women were looting and burning their houses, they were told that they cannot help them. Moreover, the SHO had told the dominant caste that they had one hour to do any damage they wanted to in which time the police officials will not interfere. The Fire brigade arrived only at 12:30 p.m. when most of the Scheduled Castes houses were burnt and looted. It is a clear connivance of the administration and dominant caste persons to instill fear in the hearts of the minority community residing in the village and to establish their supremacy over the minority communities. Post the incident 150 Balmiki families have become homeless and have lost their life’s earnings, livelihood and homes. These people have been left without any shelter over their heads and with no support from the administrative authorities. No measures have been taken even after one month of the incident to provide these homeless people with adequate shelter or compensations. The government and the administration are not taking any steps to conduct a fair and proper investigation of the incident. Till date, no committees have been formed for damage assessment, or for investigation of the incident. The investigation into the whole incident is tardy and improper. The children of these victims are out of school and are not able to resume their education. They are not able to get admission in any school as admission dates for the children are over. Victim families have not received any food, shelter or health facilities from the administrative authorities since their house was destroyed except a few empty promises. Women and children are also left without adequate support structure or health facilities. Balmikis are left at the mercy of some helpful citizens of their society and their community who have provided them with temporary shelter in a temple in Delhi. Caste-based violence, which is being carried out with the connivance of police officials and administrative authorities has not resulted in any action taken against the dominant caste people. Many of the dominant caste families have licensed guns. Such incidents have not resulted in the police revoking the gun license of the dominant caste people. Dalits have lost faith in the administration and the demand for justice of the atrocities inflicted upon them, adequate compensation for the loss suffered by them both mental and physical, and rehabilitation and resettlement in a new place, away from the dominant caste, where they can lead a peaceful life. Constitution of India which provides for equal rights to all citizens (Art. 14), non-discrimination on the basis of caste (Art. 15), equality of opportunity in matters of employment (Art. 16), protection of life and liberty and right to live with dignity (Art 21), right to education (Art. 21A) and protection of interest of minorities (Art. 29), does not hold any meaning for Dalits, whose lives and property can be destroyed in minutes.