Justice Delayed for Dalit Girl Burnt Alive in Uttar Pradesh

August 07, 2008
Madhu Chandra

The world was shocked by recent news of a six year old Dalit girl thrown into a burning bush by the upper caste villagers in India’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh in April, for which justice, even after three months, is still delayed.

A Fact Finding Team consisting of an International Human Rights group met Kamlesh and her parents along with Dalit leaders from her village. The story of justice delayed and the denial of medical and financial aid have been reported to the fact finding team.

Kamlesh’s parents are still in shock, suffering trauma and feel great fear of what will happen, if the accused happened to be released from jail.

On April 29, 2008 in the morning, in a village called Trauali Jhanauti in Mathura District of Uttar Pradesh in north India, Kamlesh was thrown into a burning bush by upper caste fellow villagers for the alleged crime of passing through a house which lies on the roadside toward the open fields where Dalit women and children used to go for open toilet.

When Kamlesh’s mother Manju, eighth months pregnant, attempted to snatch her from burning bush, she was thrashed at roadside and fell unconscious. When Manju came to her senses, she yelled for help. She pulled her daughter out from the burning bush, by the time 80% of her body was burned.

Kamlesh’s parents did not have a single penny to afford taking their daughter to the Hospital; rather they took her to the local police station with the expectation that the police would help them get some medical assistance.

The local police, after registering the complaint, took Kamlesh to the Government District Hospital at Mathura. She suffered five hours at the hospital before proper medical attention was given to her. After 36 hours, she was transferred to a bigger hospital in the district headquarters and later referred to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she was treated up to her present condition.

The physical condition of Kamlesh is still grim. No proper medication has been given to her. Her right hand remains crippled, the right leg and skin all over the body are cracked and unhealed. She still groans with pain. Immediate treatment is needed to fully heal the burns.

The little financial aid from government has not been enough to cover the medical cost. Kamlesh’s parents have taken loans from known friends and relatives to pay for the necessary medicines.

Kamlesh’s parents Saudan and Manju are illiterate and do not have any regular job nor fields to cultivate. They depend on their daily wages, which they hardly get 8 to 10 days in a month.

A local Dalit activist and leader of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations told the fact finding team,

“For years, Dalit community in the village have been the receiving end of caste instinct crimes such as the case of Kamlesh, but this is the first case that the police has arrested the culprit.”

Justice to Kamlesh and her parents for the crime committed against them is very shaky at this point. The accused and the upper caste communities are wealthier and have better connections with government authorities, through which the crime could be manipulated.

Kamlesh’s father Saudan says,

“Out of four names of the culprits registered in police complaint, three have been removed from the complaint and only one is arrested and put behind the bar without trial. We could be forced to withdraw the complaint against the culprits to compromise the case.”

The lack of sanitary facilities in the village was one of the root causes for ongoing crimes faced by Dalits of the village from upper caste communities. The Dalit village leaders feel that such incidents could be avoided in future, if sanitary facilities for Dalit communities were provided in their village.

Illiteracy, poverty, social oppression and lack of medical accessibility to the Dalits in the villages are the root causes of such atrocities and crimes. Economic and education empowerment of Dalit communities will play a vital role in delivering them their fundamental rights. Failing which, the economic condition of Kamlesh’s parents and alike of other Dalit families; will always fall short to give education to their children in the village.

Ignorance caused by the lack of education could be one of many factors for caste-based discrimination and atrocities, which Dalits have been suffering for years. Surely the stories like that of Kamlesh could be prevented in future through proper community-based education and amelioration of living conditions.

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August 7, 2008
03:42 PM

The Dalit village leaders feel that such incidents could be avoided in future, if sanitary facilities for Dalit communities were provided in their village.

have you approached any local NGO?

August 11, 2008
12:30 AM

have you approached any local NGO?

Oooh, I'm tempted, awful tempted. But, I'll restrain myself - for now....

August 11, 2008
12:34 AM

Haven't got the time for a fight here, right now. I've got Georgia on my mind....

Madhu Chandra
August 11, 2008
12:36 AM

I am sorry for not responding.

Yes, we have approached one and huge international agency, working for Dalits. They are coming up with immediate help for medication, and long term schooling of the girl.

We are also appealing Sulabh International, for possibility of sanitation in the village.

For justice, we are appealing to UP Govt, NCSC, and NCHR. Thank you

August 11, 2008
01:08 AM

Wishing you the best of luck with your efforts, Madhu...

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