Maharashtrians vs others - rift widens with lynching of Uttar Pradesh youth (Roundup)

October 29th, 2008 - 8:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Shivraj PatilMumbai/Lucknow, Oct 29 (IANS) Fear had already pushed him towards the road back to his home in Uttar Pradesh but Dharamdev Ramnarain Rai may have waited too long to take that call. He was lynched on a speeding suburban train, police said Wednesday, as Mumbai recorded one more incident of violence against north Indians.The campaign against “outsiders” took another bloody turn on Diwali on board the Khopoli-Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train with the killing of the 25-year-old who leaves behind an infant daughter, a grieving pregnant wife and father.

The gang of 10, police in India’s financial capital said, waited only to find out whether he and his friends were “bhaiyyas” (’brother’, the term used to refer to people from Uttar Pradesh), before assaulting them.

The incident - only a day after Bihar youth Rahul Raj was shot dead by Mumbai police after he attacked the conductor of a bus and fired at a passenger - prompted the union home ministry to seek a report from the Maharashtra government on the circumstances leading to the death as well as over the security of other non-Maharashtrians.

Following a conversation with Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh announced a probe by the chief secretary. Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil announced Rs.200,000 for the family.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati also announced a similar cash compensation and said in a statement: “It is high time the central government rose to the occasion and took appropriate action against the growing confrontation between the people of Maharashtra and north Indians living in that state.”

Four security guards were on the train Tuesday night when Dharamdev, who worked in a steel manufacturing unit in Khopoli, 120 km from Mumbai, was killed.

“However, this unfortunate incident happened in the third bogie when the train was moving at a fast speed. So the guards could do nothing,” said Government Railway Police (GRP) Commissioner Ashok K. Sharma.

That would be scant comfort for his father Ram Narain Rai, a teacher in a school in Goriya Ghat in east Uttar Pradesh’s Sant Kabir Nagar who said: “Dharamdev had made up his mind to return home in view of the escalating attacks against north Indians in Maharastra.”

Detailing the events, Rai told IANS over the phone: “My son had boarded a suburban train with two friends from Sant Kabir Nagar to go to Kalyan from where they had proposed to take the Kushinagar Express to return home.

“But just as the train reached Badlapur station (in neighbouring Thane), a band of 15-20 MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) goons stormed into the compartment. Raising pro-MNS slogans, they instantly asked for UP ‘bhaiyyas’ whom they could identify easily as the non-Marathi speaking passengers on board.”

He said Dharamdev and his friends pleaded for mercy “and sought to explain to the MNS activists that they had already made up their mind to leave the state”.

Police in Mumbai said Dharamdev was brutally beaten while his friends Dheeraj Verma, Virendra Rai and Satya Prakash escaped with injuries.

According to information gleaned from railway officials, the altercation took place over window seats which the four friends grabbed when they boarded the train at Khopoli to come to Mumbai.

A group of at least 10 demanded that the youth get up from the seat. When they refused, one of them asked them if they were ‘bhaiyyas’,” an official said.

The mayhem started when the youths replied in the affirmative. The gang started abusing, slapping and punching them as the train hurtled at a speed of over 80 km per hour to the next station.

It was all over within a matter of minutes. Dharamdev succumbed to his injuries at a police station in Badlapur in Thane district.

On Oct 19, young men from Bihar who had come to Mumbai to appear for railway recruitment examinations were targeted and attacked at several railway stations by activists of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). It led to the arrest of MNS president Raj Thackeray and retaliation by his partymen across the state.

At least one person from Bihar was killed then. Dharamdev is only the latest victim as the targeting of non-Maharashtrians jeopardises the lives of tens of thousands who have made Mumbai and its suburbs their home.

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