How much does a dalit's life cost in UP? Apparently, just Rs.15. The gruesome murder of a dalit couple on Thursday in Mainpuri district of Uttar Pradesh corroborates this claim. Bharat Singh (45) and his wife Mamta (40) were hacked to death allegedly by Ashok Mishra, a Brahmin grocer, for not paying their two-week-old grocery debt of Rs 15.
This is reflective of the caste politics prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan. It was only last week that BJP leader Dayashanker Singh and the BSP chief Mayawati had a bitter verbal duel regarding the atrocities committed on dalits. Singh allegedly called Mayawati a sex worker. This led to heated debate in the Rajya Sabha.
The BJP distanced itself from Singh and promptly dismissed him. He vanished after a case was filed against him. But a photograph of him having darshan at a Shiva temple in Jharkhand's Deoghar surfaced on the social media. He was arrested from Bihar’s Buxar on Friday after days of hide-and-seek with the police.
UP, Bihar and Rajasthan lead in terms of crime against schedule castes (dalits). There needs to be special measures to deal with the situation, according to the NCSC (National Commission for Scheduled castes). UP, which has 20 per cent of SC population, accounts for 17 per cent of crimes against dalits.
What makes it worse is the fact that the incident took place in the pocket borough of the ruling Samajwadi Party in Mainpuri district. Despite Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's stern directive to prevent such incidents, there is no respite for dalits.
Dalits of the area are on edge and might be looking for a chance to retaliate. The situation is tense but under control. The administration has deployed additional forces to prevent any untoward incident.
What exactly happened?
The couple, who were the residents of Lakhnipur village, were agricultural labourers. They had borrowed grocery worth Rs 15 a few weeks ago from Mishra. As they did not have the money to pay for the items they had told Mishra that they would pay after a few days. Even after a few weeks passed, they were not able to clear the debt. This irritated Mishra.
On Thursday morning, while on their way to work the couple bought a packet of biscuits from a nearby shop. This angered Mishra, who asked them to pay back the Rs 15. This led to an altercation. An exasperated Mishra, bought an axe and allegedly hacked the couple to death.
The Superintendent of Police (Mainpuri) Devranjan Verma said, “There was a dispute between them for non-payment of some items which the couple had taken from Mishra’s shop. Mishra killed both of them. The accused has been arrested.”