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BSP MLA shielding murderers of a dalit youth

BSP MLA shielding murderers of a dalit youth


by Bobby Ramakant

Mayawati led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has been trumpeting the welfare of dalits, but in UP state of India where they are in power, one of their own Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) is allegedly shielding the murderers of a dalit youth.

On the fateful morning of 1 August 2007, a dalit youth Chakrasen was brutally assaulted by two upper-caste men and murdered in Bhadevra village of Pratapgarh district, about 200 kilometres away from the state capital Lucknow.

Ram Shiromani Shukla, local Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA, has been protecting the accused.

On 30 September 2007, a fact-finding team went to this village in the morning, led by Magsaysay awardee (2002) and head of National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) Dr Sandeep Pandey, retired Inspector General of Police SR Darapuri, and Dynamic Action Group activists Gyan, Sujit and Ram Kumar to strengthen community's voices for justice.

"Ironically this is yet another blot on BSP's claim to champion dalit's welfare in UP with BSP MLA and party workers shielding the alleged murderers of a talented dalit youth" said Dr Sandeep Pandey.

The deceased Chakrasen graduated from Allahabad University this year and had qualified for the State-level Engineering Entrance Examination. He came to the village a day before he was murdered, to meet his family before joining the Engineering College.

On the ill-fated day of 1 August 2007, when he went out in the morning, Santosh Mishra and Akash Dubey allegedly started battering him. Chakrasen tried to escape to the nearby village Sudemau but Santosh and Akash followed him shouting 'thief'. In response to the false 'thief' alarm, some people from the Pasi community caught hold of Chakrasen. He was then tied up with a thick rope, beaten mercilessly, dragged, eyes were gouged with needles and beaten with rods and strangulated to death. Chakrasen's eyes held dreams of college and career. They didn't just kill him. They first punished him by smashing the eye that dared to dream of education.

Santosh Mishra is a BSP party worker and close associate of Ram Shiromani Shukla, the local BSP MLA.

On 11 August 2007, a fact-finding team of DAG members went to the said-villages, and met the members of the family as well as other villagers. Till then none of the assailants had been arrested.

Surprisingly the role of BSP MLA was not protective towards the dalit community but instead BSP MLA kept the murderers in his protection and had pressurized the local administration not to arrest them. Dalit family members too were being threatened by BSP members to keep silent.

The dreams to live with dignity fostered by dalits in the wake of the recent landslide victory for BSP in UP, are being thwarted by such unfortunate incidents.

Chakrasen's grandfather Shiv Murat was distributing ration and kerosene in the village. Santosh and Akash made illegal demands for ration and kerosene. Chakrasen reportedly didn't allow them to take more ration or kerosene than the allotted quota. "Santosh and Akash often used to fight with bhaiya for this," says his youngest brother Shaktisen. The family says they got even more upset when he got admission to the engineering college.

One of the two accused, Santosh Mishra had threatened Shiv Murat by life. Shivmurat reported this death-threat to the local police 'thana' 10 months back but police did not pay any heed to it.

Role of police in this case has been very dubious. When Chakrasen was being beaten brutally, the village pradhan Rammani Vishwakarma tried to call the police three times but all calls fell on deaf ears. Although the murder took place at about 6am on 1 August, the police registered a first information report (FIR) only at 7pm of that evening, due to mounting pressure from outraged villagers. The police first lodged the report under Section 304 i.e. culpable homicide not amounting to murder. It was only two days later, that section 302 was added.

The police neither allowed the family of Chakrasen nor the villagers to go near the dead body. They took the dead body into their custody after reaching the spot. Panchnama was also not done. The family members of the deceased were called to the police station but the dead body was sent for post mortem before they could reach the police station.

The family members of Chakrasen allege that the local police is trying to shield the accused and deliberately trying to weaken the case. For instance, police named Matadin as one of the main accused, who had died four years ago!

The two main accused, Santosh and Akash, were arrested earlier on direct orders of Superintendent of Police, but later released on bail. After coming out on bail they had again beaten up the family members of Chakrasen.

Let's hope dalit voices for justice are held in the current corridors of power in UP assembly and justice meted out at the earliest!

*************

(The author is a senior development journalist writing for Asian and African media. He can be contacted at: bobbyramakant@yahoo.com)

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