Fear grips Bihar village after Dalit’s killing

October 13th, 2008 - 3:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Oct 13 (IANS) Dalits in a village in Bihar’s Nalanda district are living under constant fear after a member of their community was shot dead, allegedly by upper caste land owners, for attempting to offer prayers and perform rituals before an idol of goddess Durga.Villagers said they were shocked and feared for their lives despite the deployment of security forces two days after the killing of Karu Paswan, a landless Dalit in Jiar-Pindpar village in Nalanda, about 100 km from here.

“It is like living in water with crocodiles,” Sitwa Devi, a Dalit woman, said in Hindi.

According to the police, Karu Paswan was shot dead Friday allegedly by upper caste land owners when he tried to pray to Durga during the Dussehra festival. Apart from him, three Dalit men were seriously injured and were undergoing treatment in hospital.

“We are not safe here and are repeatedly threatened by upper caste men to withdraw the case against them,”a frightened Dalit man told IANS over telephone on condition of anonymity.

Dalits in the village added that the deployment of police forces has not helped allay their fears.

“The local administration is not doing justice to Dalits. Even investigations are not being carried out properly just to save the skin of upper caste men involved in Paswan’s killing,” an angry Dalit youth alleged.

Nalanda Superintendent of Police Vinit Vinayak said that two sections of armed security forces had been deployed in the village.

Deputy Superintendent of Police A.K. Satyarthi, who visited the village, said a case has been lodged against seven accused and two of then have been arrested.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been facing criticism from the opposition over the issue.

“A Dalit man was killed by upper caste men in the chief minister’s home district when he tried to offer prayers to goddess Durga. It has again exposed the hollowness of Nitish Kumar’s claims of good governance,” said Shayam Rajak, general secretary of the main opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal.

Ramchandra Paswan, MP of the Lok Janshakti Party and brother of central minister Ramvilas Paswan, said: “Dalits continue to be victimised by powerful people. Karu’s killing is an example.”

Communist Party of India (Marixist-Leninist) leader K.D. Yadav said the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) government was not providing security to Dalits but protecting powerful people.

Dalit outfits like the Dalit Sena and Dalit Sangharsh Morcha have demanded stern action against the culprits.

In Nalanda and elsewhere in rural Bihar, Dalits are often either forcibly stopped or not allowed to pray in temples.

Dalits constitute nearly 15 percent of Bihar’s 83 million population.

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