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» » News18 Shorts

Caste in blood: Hisar can't give up prejudice

Apr 25, 2010 04:04 PM IST India India

Hisar: An argument over a barking dog in the street led to one of the most violent clash that Haryana has seen this year. But was it just a village fight going horribly wrong or was it a clash between upper castes and lower castes in Hisar's Mirchpur village?

On April 21, 15 houses belonging to the village's Dalits were set on fire by the upper caste Jats. The incident of violence witnessed a physically challenged girl and her 70 year-old-father being burnt alive.

"My daughter pleaded that she cannot run. But she was burnt," recounts Kamala Devi, the mother of the dead girl.

It is now being said that it an argument over a dog that started it all. However, in a world far removed from urban dwellings, where caste divisions run deep, a street fight can take an entirely different dimension. Obviously, there are different sides to this story.

Chander Singh, a Dalit villager says it was a fight among youngsters over a dog.

"Then two representatives from our side went over to say that there should be no fighting and things should be cooled down, but they were also beaten up," claims Singh.

The Dalits say the upper caste feel threatened by the changing status quo as Dalits get educated and financial muscle. The Dalits accuse the administration of also favouring the upper caste. They allege the police did nothing when their houses were torched.

"The police SHO is related to the Jats. He did not take any action. He was standing there with the Jats and drinking water with them," alleges Ajay Kumar, another Dalit villager.

The upper castes on the other hand hold the Dalits responsible for aggravating the incident.

Some Jat youth were returning from the fields when a dog started going for their legs. One of the youth took off his shoe to fling at the dog but it hit a Dalit boy sitting nearby. That Dalit youth got up and caught the Jat youth by the neck and slapped him which led to the clash," Raghbir Singh, a Jat elder.

The government is meanwhile trying to pass it off as a one off incident.

This is something this is a sporadic type of incident. It just got flared up and went on spreading," says OP Sheoran, Deputy Commissioner of Hisar.

Perhaps the clash that Mirchpur has witnessed is the friction of change. When centuries old traditions get overlaid on a village fight, it assumes an entirely new dimension and those are the dimensions that modern Haryana has to manage and cope with.

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