Around 10 Dalit families have fled the Phulwari village in Haryana’s Palwal area, which has been tense for the past two months because of a strain between the Dalit and Gujjar communities, The Indian Express reported on Saturday.
Most of the villagers, according to local residents and the police, are Gujjars, with Dalits comprising 15% of the population.
In April, two members of the Gujjar community allegedly beat up a 21-year-old Dalit student for refusing to do their household work. The Dalit man then filed a First Information Report against the suspected attackers. Since then, two more complaints have been registered – one by another Dalit boy accusing the Gujjar community of using casteist language, and the second by a member of the Gujjar community, who accused 15 Dalit men of beating him up when the two groups met at a temple last week to resolve their problems.
Hostilities increased on June 1, when a 19-year-old Dalit man aspiring to join the Haryana Police was allegedly beaten and abused without provocation.
These incidents have created a sense of fear and apprehension, said villagers. “We do not think we can live here anymore,” said the father of the 21-year-old Dalit student. “We will eventually have to sell our land and make arrangements to move elsewhere.”
Village sarpanch Surender Kumar, however, denied that there was any problem. “These were small fights that have escalated,” said Kumar. “We intend to hold a panchayat on Sunday to resolve the issues…People have lived here peacefully and will continue to do so .”
Palwal police station inspector Devender said: “We have received First Information Reports from both groups and the incidents are being investigated.”