The Uttar Pradesh police appeared to be over enthusiastic while slapping stringent charges (UAPA, sedition and serious sections sections of the IPC) against the alleged perpetrators of communal violence in Kasganj, who happened to be Muslims, SC/STs and OBCs, but the law enforcement agency seems to ignore the blatant atrocities committed on a Dalit family at Ambedkar Nagar district where two women and their minor children were brutally attacked reportedly by upper caste men at Shahpur Prasi village in the northeastern region of the state.
The incident took place on February 10 when 48-year-old Sangeeta Devi and her sister-in-law Sarita Devi (38) went to a plot of land, which was allotted to them by the then government in 1970 under the land for landless scheme, along with their two minor girls after the SHO of the police station reportedly concerned asked them to visit the small bit of the land.
The piece of land is surrounded by the land of belonging to upper caste men – Radhe Shyam, Rajit Ram and Ram Pragat – on three sides. They were allegedly not letting the poor Dalit family use the land allotted to them for a long time despite several repeated court orders.
After the influential men captured the land in question, erected boundary walls around it and planted few trees on it, Sarita and Sangeeta lodged a police complaint. “We were asked by the SHO of the Ahrauli police station to go to the plot of land fearlessly. Following the assurance of safety, the two women and the children went there but they were brutally attacked with axes and sticks by Radhe Shyam, Rajit Ram, Ram Pragat and one more person,” Sangeeta’s husband Ramprakash, who runs a tailoring shop in Delhi’s Badarpur, told Newsclick.
While Sangeeta and the two children were hit by sticks, Sarita was attacked on her head with an ax. All the four suffered injuries and rushed to a hospital, which has referred them to Lucknow for treatment. Sarita has been severely injured and her condition is said to be critical.
Newsclick Image by Sumit Kumar
Reflecting the “caste prejudice” while taking actions against upper caste influential people in a “feudal society”, the alleged accused have been booked under non-serious sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). They have been slapped with sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the IPC and section 3(1) of the SC/ST Act. All the sections are bailable and have the provisions of up to three years of imprisonment if found guilty.
Surprisingly, the police did not find the case fit for invoking Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC.
The police said they are investigating the matter and no culprit will go scot free. “We have filed an FIR (14/18) on the complaint of Sangeeta Devi and are probing the incident. All the named accused were briefly detained for questioning and later released,” a police man stationed at the office of the Circle Officer (CO) told Newsclick.
When asked why the accused were not booked under attempt to murder charge, he said, “They cannot be booked under attempt to murder charge as per the complaint filed by the victims. Our probe is on and if it is found necessary to be slapped against the accused, we will not hesitate. We are here to ensure justice to the victims.”
Ambedkar Nagar Superintendent of Police Santosh Kumar Mishra also reiterated the same, rubbishing the allegation of any caste bias. “We are doing an inquiry to ensure that the culprits get the punishment they deserve for the crime. Whatever sections have been slapped is according to the complaint filed by the victim’s family. Other sections can also be invoked once we complete our investigation,” he told Newsclick.
Human rights lawyer Sarfaraz Nazeer, who practices in a trial court in eastern Uttar Pradesh, said the caste and communal prejudice of the police always come to the fore in cases of communal riots and caste violence.
“Generally, the police do not dare to act tough against the influential upper caste people of villages. They are let off by filling non-serious charges against them. In 90 percent cases filed under the SC/ST Act, the perpetrators are not punished because of the botched up investigation, omission and commission of evidence and witnesses either not turning up or turning hostile because of the fear and pressure,” he said, adding that all the charges slapped in this case also suggest the same.
He asked how can attempt to murder charge not be added against the accused when a person has been attacked with axes and is battling for life.
Puncturing the police claim regarding the content of the complaint that does not allow slapping of severe charges, he said it is nothing new. “This happens because the police tone down the language of the complaint and not record it in entirety and as said by the victims,” he added.