Editor’s Note: Dalit rights groups are protesting across the country today over the delay in a review of a March 20 order of the Supreme Court. The order was criticised for diluting the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Until the time of publishing this report, 4 persons protesting against the order were reported killed from Madhya Pradesh. The following story is an eyewitness account of the attack on protesters from Barmer, Rajasthan.
Just as I was about to reach Barmer, after having left home in the morning, at around 11:30 am, I saw around 200 to 250 people running towards me. “Run! They are beating people with sticks,” I heard.
Everybody around me started running away after hearing this, but I alone kept walking ahead, trying to hide my identity. After having walked a little, I saw around 40 to 50 Savarna miscreants, with sticks and stones in their hands, threatening people to leave and hurling casteist abuses. These people appeared to be of the Karni Sena from the Thakur community, the same community that burnt the country some time ago to turn ‘Padmavati’ into ‘Padmaavat’. We heard the slogan ‘Karni Sena Ki Jai’. Social media posts that I have seen since the morning and protesters I spoke to also suggest the group is involved. (The story will be updated with any further confirmations of their identity).
They let me go without suspecting anything, but they broke vandalised all vehicles of the SC/ST people there, and also thrashed a number of people. A lot of stones fell near me. A youth walking beside me was beaten up mercilessly. When I scrambled out of the place and spoke to the police administration, I didn’t get any satisfactory answers. When I reached the main bazaar, I saw tea-gas shelling and aerial firing.
When I saw the situation get out of hand, I found a secure place, and spoke to people about planning to fight it. In the conversation, I learnt that around 8 am, people from the SC/ST community had gathered and from thereon rallied in discipline to the Chohtan Chauraha, where people from the Karni Sena, ready with sticks and stones, terrorised them. The situation started getting out of hand from there.
The police sent the protesters towards the city, but stationed the ‘Karni Sena’ miscreants at the gate of the city towards the other side, where they were forcing anybody arriving to leave.
Even after being informed, the police kept working with the ‘Karni Sena’. This resulted in some more people getting beaten up, hundreds of vehicles being vandalised. The 4-5 vehicles in the Ambedkar hostel nearby were also burnt. All these vehicles belonged to SC/ST people.
There are about 50,000 people trapped in the city and the situation can get worse with any lapses by the administration. I appeal to human rights organisations, justice-seeking individuals, and the community’s MPs and MLAs to demand an intervention at the highest level.
Note: YKA tried speaking to the local SP, but he didn’t comment as he was at the site of protests. The story will be updated with his comments later.
The post was first published here on YKA. This is a translation of the original post.