June 17, 2019: Prakash Saroj, a resident of Pratap Garh, is burnt alive allegedly by some upper caste persons over an argument in the backdrop of the India-Pakistan World Cup match.
July 5, 2019: A Dalit woman is abducted and raped allegedly by a gang of three unidentified men on Aligarh-Kanpur highway when she was going to Mainpuri for the final rites of her relative. Her perturbed Husband approaches the local police station for help but the police officials accuse him of fabricating a false story and torture him during questioning. Later, a medical examination shows grievous injuries on his back and legs. Ashamed by the conduct of its officials, UP Police suspends the accused absconding policemen. The victim couple looks for justice.
July 7, 2019: A viral video shows three Dalit youths being publicly stripped and thrashed by a mob after they were allegedly caught during a theft bid in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh. The images of the thrashing bring back memories of open flogging in Una, Gujarat in 2016. The Uttar Pradesh Police faces backlash over delayed action.
Three such incidents in Uttar Pradesh in the last one month suggest peculiar similarities, where victims were subjected to gruesome violence and face complete indifference from the law enforcement agencies. For instance, in the alleged Mainpuri gangrape case, the husband approached the police soon after his wife was abducted. The victim was later dumped in fields in the neighbouring Etah district.
As per the account revealed by the husband to the Indian Express, around 4 am, his wife reached the police station where he was being questioned and said that the kidnappers had gang raped and dumped her in the adjoining Etah district after taking her jewellery and Rs 15,000. She had allegedly taken a bus to Etah and had called her family who had instructed her to reach Kurawali Police Station.
A case was finally registered against the three men under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The level of indifference can be gauged by the fact that the medical examination of the victim still needs to be done, even after five days of the incident.
Rajneesh Gautam, a Dalit activist and advocate who is associated with various cases of oppression and discrimination, argues that the spike in cases of atrocities against Dalits is a testimony to the fact that everything is not going as smooth as it was promised by the present regime led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
He said, “There are two aspects related to Dalit atrocities in any state; first, the registration of cases under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act comes with the baggage of additional investigation. So, other matters, except for the serious ones of murder, rape or any grievous injury are summarily discarded by investigating officers. Secondly, the instructions are also clear from the government about the registration of cases, as it is required to pay compensation every time. If the victim is not known to any influential person or [if] any other organisation is [not] raising the issue, the case will not be registered. But it must be noted that this apathy has transcended quarrels and physical violence. A systemic exclusion is under place and the first visible instance of it was when several persons from the Dalit community were arrested post April 2 Bharat Bandh protests last year on the pretext of false cases.”
Ravi Kant, another Dalit activist, said that the burgeoning numbers are seeped in both — the conduct and the mindset of the government. He said, “I have seen it a few times now. For example, a simple altercation could have been solved after negotiation. It all started with a collision between a motorcycle and an SUV. But when a local leader not only rips apart the clothes of a woman, but also threatens to file FIR against the victims, one can understand how things work on the ground. But a different message is sent altogether when people like Satpal Malik or Sudesh Rana, who are known for their casteist remarks, are chosen for leadership and when people lynched Rohit Jatav in Udepur in Meerut last year and said ‘do what you want. It’s our government’.”