Faridabad (PTI): Sanped in Haryana’s Faridabad, where a dalit family was burnt alive leading to the death of two toddlers, today erupted in grief and indignation, with the locals blocking Delhi-Agra highway with their bodies in protest as politicians joined them in mourning the horrific killings.
As the the bodies of two-and-a-half-years-old Vaibhav and 11-month-old Divya, wrapped in white shrouds, arrived, the village, about 35 km from the national capital, plunged into grief.
Wailing soon gave way to anger and scores of villagers, walking hand in hand and shouting slogans, carried the bodies and placed them on the Delhi-Agra highway, blocking traffic.
As tempers ran high, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi visited the village where he accused the Prime Minister, Harayana Chief Minister, the BJP and RSS of practicising “politics of crushing” those who are weak which results in such incidents.
“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,” Gandhi said after meeting the distraught family members.
“In Haryana, there is no government for the poor and poor people are being targeted here which is totally wrong. I have assured the victims’ family that I would do whatever they want from me including pressuring the government.
Asked whether he was doing politics over the incident, Rahul angrily retorted: “This is insulting when someone says it when someone comes here. It is not insulting to me. It is insulting to these people. What is a photo op. What you mean? People are dying. I will visit (such places) again, again and again.”
While Vaibhav and his sister Divya had perished in the blaze allegedly set off by some upper caste people of the village who had a running feud with their family, their mother Rekha, 28, suffered serious burns and is battling for life in a Delhi hospital. Their father Jitender, 31, also received injuries while trying to save them.
The killers were alleged to have poured petrol into their house from an open window and set it alight after locking the doors from outside.
11 persons, including a father-son duo, have been booked on murder, rioting and other charges, a police spokesman said.
The incident happened despite the presence of a police post at the village. The police contingent was deployed following the murder of three upper caste people by dalits some time ago.
The incident came in for sharp criticism by the government as also BJP ally Ram Vilas Paswan of LJP, who termed it as the failure of the saffron party-ruled state government.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh described the incident as “very unfortunate” and “condemnable”.
“The news of intolerance that we are getting from electronic and print mediums of news are very worrisome. They are issues of concern for us,” he said in Delhi.
“We should not be getting any complaints of intolerance on the basis of caste, creed, religion or sect,” he said.
LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan said,”It is totally the responsibility of the state government. We have some protection under the Constitution, but law and order is definitely the responsibility of the state government.”
BSP chief Mayawati termed the incident as “most unfortunate” and even threatened to take to streets if the victim family was not provided adequate security and compensation, and the perpetrators were not dealt with sternly.
“The manner in which four members of a Dalit family were set ablaze in Faridabad leading to the death of two children is most unfortunate and condemnable…if the victims are not provided proper security and compensation by the Haryana government and prompt action is not taken against the culprits BSP will take to the streets there,” she said in a statement in Lucknow.
She said weaker sections were “feeling insecure especially under the BJP government at the Centre and states and this is a very serious.”
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was also expected to visit the village.
Amid reports that he had cancelled his proposed visit today because of the ongoing protests, sources in his office said in Chandigarh “he will definitely go there either today or tomorrow.