The past few days in Ramgarh Village, part of Dadri constituency of Gautam Buddha Nagar district in Greater Noida (NCR), witnessed brutal atrocities on a dalit colony by dominant Gujjars.
As the Dalit atrocities continuing unabated, a CPI(ML) fact-finding team including CPI(ML) In-charge of Gautam Buddh Nagar, Comrade Shyam Kishore; Noida City CPI(ML) leaders Comrades Chandrabhan Singh and Shivji Singh; AISA National President Sandeep Singh, JNUSU General Secretary Ravi Prakash, RYA leader Aslam Khan; and AISA activists Anmol and Harsh from DU went there to analyse the ground realities on 27 March 2012.
On 14 March, 2012, approximately 20-25 men and women headed by the village pradhan, Kuldeep Bhati, walked throughout the village and battered the vulnerable dalit villagers with pistols, iron pipes and rods, axes and lathis, accompanied by death threats and filthy verbal abuses.
The victims including women, children, men and aged belong to the Jatav community. Many of them who were injured had to be hospitalised.
Satpal (in his early thirties), a construction worker, was on the way back home when goons attacked him with iron rods and axe. Severely injured in the process, Satpal was kept in the ICU for few days, where he was diagnosed with a broken skull, fractured leg and blood deficiency. Though he has been discharged from the hospital, he is bed-ridden, hardly speaks and is likely to take almost a year to recover. Likewise, Shakuntala, Satpal’s mother, was hit by iron rods on her stomach.
The fact-finding team was told that her kneecap was broken and had a broken limb. Pirkashi, a 50-year-old woman has incurred stitches on her head and a plaster on her left hand along with a rod.
Rohit (17 years), Parkashi’s son, was beaten up by pradhan Kuldeep Bhati’s goons while he was on the way back home. He could not sit for his matriculation examination, as he has been advised complete bed rest by the doctors. Rohit’s brother, Niraj (24 years) was axed on the head. Fakira, an elderly person of 80 years, was also ruthlessly beaten up by iron rods. His neighbour, Mangtey, a landless labourer, was also callously thrashed, leaving him with a fractured hand, while he was on the way to his workplace. Stitches on his head were clearly visible.
Furthermore, vulnerable women, who are always soft and easy targets in every act of violence and suppression, also bore the brunt in this episode. Several women including Sushila (40 –45 years), Jagmiri (around 45 years), Usha (35 – 36 years), Babita (38 years), Babli (18 years), Bobby (19 years) have given an account of their being beaten up by men from the dominant community, and subjected to verbal sexual abuse. Some have ended up with stitches on their head, some with a fractured hand or leg and some with injured back or stomach.
All this occurred in broad daylight within an hour between 1:00 and 2:00 PM on 14 March 2012. Tension still prevails in the area and the district administration has deployed additional police forces to ‘contain the situation’. Nevertheless, the dalit residents very well recognise the fact that in the guise of ‘containing the situation’, the police is keeping an eagle’s eye on them so that they do not rise up in protest against the culprits.
It should be noted that in this village, there has been a history of poor villagers of the Valmiki community having been evicted from their lands by powerful people, and forced to leave the village.
In the recent unfolding of events in Ramgarh village, a land dispute has surfaced wherein the powerful people in village had forcibly acquired the dalit lands and built illegal constructions on them. The Ramgarh residents told the fact-finding team that they have sold out the forcibly acquired dalit land in Ramgarh to an outsider named Firay. Moreover, Kuldeep Bhati, the village pradhan, has sealed the Dalit colony from all sides. The Patwari is paid a regular bribe by Kuldeep Bhati from the villagers’ pockets (Rs. 400/- per head).
Brahm Jatav, a member of the oppressed dalit community, pointed out that having all papers relating to the disputed land (measuring around 4.75 bigha; market rate worth 3.5 – 4 crores rupees), he made an application to the SDM on 24 January 2012 to take proper action as soon as possible in the same context. As expected, villagers were threatened to withdraw their application. Thereafter, Brahm filed an FIR at Dadri Thana against the attackers on 1 February 2012. He was shot at for notifying the problem to the authorities, but was saved by a fellow villager.
The state of affairs worsened post assembly elections. In Dadri constituency, Satveer Gujjar of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati won the assembly election. The Ramgarh residents reported that while they were being beaten up, their perpetrators repeatedly spoke about the former’s helplessness due to the Samajwadi Party (SP) toppling the BSP in these elections. At a superficial level, it might appear that the SP supporters attacked the Jatavs for not voting the SP candidate. However, a closer look would have us believe that poor and vulnerable dalit communities are being persistently beleaguered by the dominant people on the subject of land all over Uttar Pradesh. For instance, a similar trajectory of illegal acquisition of dalit land can be seen in Bironda, not very far from Ramgarh village.
The centrality of the land question is inevitable in context of the escalating real estate business in the NCR regions of Delhi. In the process, the poor and dalit lands and villages are being relentlessly and rapidly engulfed by the large corporate houses like the Ansals and Jaypee and earmarked for making expensive and lavish housing-societies and malls. This real estate market has paved way for the creation of a strong nexus between the dominant ruling elites, their representatives at the grass root level and the big business houses. With the market rates of land skyrocketing, the lands in the NCR regions of Noida and Gurgaon have become much coveted. This has resulted in frequent assaults on the vulnerable sections of Dalit and the poor, and forcible land acquisitions in UP and countrywide.
These kinds of assaults have further intensified because there is assertion on the part of dalits in the wake of heightened expectations of doing away with all forms of feudal oppression, especially resolving land disputes through proper land reforms.