Under an immense criticism from several quarters after the brutal killing of two toddlers belonging to Dalit community in Faridabad’s Sonped village, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar met with the victim family on Thursday. The incident which took place not far from the national capital Delhi has now snowballed into a major issue. Two children of a Dalit family were burnt alive in their sleep in the wee hours of October 20 allegedly by the members of upper caste Rajput community over an year old personal dispute.
Soon after his arrival in the village, Chief Minister ML Khattar faced angry community members who shouted slogans against him to register their protest.
On a defensive after a string of criticism, ML Khattar assured them of all assistance. He has come under severe criticism with several political leaders directly blaming the BJP government for failing to protect the victims even after they were living under alleged threats since last year.
“So far what has emerged from the investigation is that the matter is not a caste-related dispute but appears to be fallout of a long standing family feud,” Mr. Khattar claimed adding, “I have been monitoring this case since the very beginning and when allegations came up against police officials a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed. Later the case was handed over to CBI as the relatives of the victim demanded that.”
Though, Mr. Khattar was earlier slated to meet the family on Wednesday but his visit was cancelled, perhaps in the wake of the strong protest held by the angry villagers and members of the bereaved family.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Haryana hamlet was seething with anger after the villagers blocked Delhi-Agra National Highway between the Faridabad-Ballabgarh stretch in protest. The family had even refused to cremate the bodies of two toddlers triggering further tension in the area. The situation was, however, brought under control by the evening after the victim family was pursued by the authorities assuring them justice
Two children — Vaibhav, aged two-and-a-half years and his 11 month-old sister Divya — died on the spot after the attackers had allegedly set their house on fire using petrol. Their mother Rekha, who suffered 70 per cent burns, is currently battling for her life in the ICU of Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi. Their father Jitender too suffered injuries while trying to save his family.
So far, seven people have been arrested after the local police booked 11 persons, including a father-son duo, under the charges of murder, rioting and other related offences. The state administration has suspended 7 police personnel who were entrusted with the responsibility to provide the victim family with security.
Strongly denouncing the horrific incident after meeting the victim family and the aggrieved villagers at Sonped village on Wednesday, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi flayed the state government, saying, “there is no government for the poor and poor people are being targeted here which is totally wrong”.
“This is an attitude shared by the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of the state and the entire BJP and RSS. The attidute is if somebody is weak, he can be crushed. What you have seen is the result of this attitude,” Mr. Gandhi had said after meeting the family of the victims.
According to the victim’s family, three people from the Rajput community were killed in a scuffle between the two communities on October last year. Two months later, Jitender’s family was allegedly attacked and their home was burnt down. There were no casualties as none of the family members were present at home. Since then, police constables were assigned to guard Jitender and his family.
(With inputs from the PTI)