By Abhishek Jha for Youth Ki Awaaz:
On Independence Day, a kabaddi tournament was organised by the people of the Ambedkar Colony of Chakkarpur village in Gurgaon. When members of a team comprised mostly of Dalits was close to winning a game against a team of Yadavs from Sikanderpur, they were beaten up by the Yadavs from Chakkarpur. A scuffle ensued in which anybody trying to protect those being beaten was roughed up. Three people, who sustained the most serious injuries, are now recovering in a hospital.
The complainants have also alleged that casteist abuses were hurled at them. A country-made pistol was allegedly brandished by the accused and shots fired in the air during the fight. Assistant Sub-Inspector Kanwar Singh, who is investigating the case, told YKA on August 17 that they have been conducting raids but have not been able to arrest any of the accused so far as they are absconding. An FIR under relevant sections of the IPC, the Arms Act, and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has however been filed.
“I feel ashamed to say this but what is true will be said. They (the Yadavs) can say whatever they feel like whenever they feel like it,” says Satyanand, a former Panchayat member of the village sitting with Vijender’s family outside his house, where three policemen have now been placed on guard. Vijender was part of the kabaddi team that was beaten up and has sustained injuries to the head.
Satyanand says that such incidents have happened before too, but when the elders intervened they would let the matter go because it is the Yadavs in their village that they need to turn to for borrowing money. The people sitting with Satyanand narrate that during the last Janmashtami celebrations, a similar incident occurred. During a handi competition, the handi would repeatedly be raised for the Dalits and lowered for the Yadavs. They were beaten up and then locked out of the venue when it appeared that they would win the competition. This time, they say, they could not stand the oppression.
Anil Yadav, a former Sarpanch speaking on behalf of his wife the ward councillor Sunita Yadav, however denies that “any intense fight had taken place” during the kabaddi match. He says that the fight happened “accidentally” during the match.
“We invited all teams for the tournament. We didn’t discriminate on the basis of caste. Why should we be discriminated against?“ asks Ashok, who helped organise the tournament and is related to Vijender’s family. He says that the Yadavs from their village had been creating trouble at the venue from the very beginning. They occupied the chairs that the organisers had brought for seating the members of their community. These very chairs, Ashok says, were later used to beat them up.
At the hospital, Vijender narrates how his child who was trying to protect him was also not spared. “They pulled me by the hair and hurled me aside,” a glum Amit, Vijender’s son, told me. Vijender also alleges that the hospital officials told him that when Anil Yadav, the former Sarpanch, came to meet the injured, he asked them to be sent back home arguing that they did not have major injuries. This YKA could not confirm. Vijender also alleged that they are now receiving veiled threats from the Yadavs to withdraw their case. He says he is not sending his children to school because of the threats.
Vijender Singh’s house in Ambedkar Colony was built only a few years ago by his father after he retired from his job in the Horticulture Department. Although his father studied until the ninth standard and Vijender himself until the eighth, they are eager to send Vijender’s children to school. Vijender’s two sons study in the fifth and fourth standard and his daughter in the first.
Ashok tells me that despite their qualifications, the Yadavs in their village don’t value them. Those outside their colony, for instance, identify the colony as ‘Harijan’ colony. He breaks into a litany of names of the people from his community who are studying in college to assert how all that is not valued by the people who are higher up on the caste ladder. Ashok himself runs a gym and claims to have trained people at Accenture in special programmes.
Back at the village, as Satyanand stood up to wish goodbye, he pointed at a transformer in their lane. He says it was to be installed outside the lane, that it is dangerous to have a transformer near their houses, where their children play. But he argues that nobody cares for them in the village.