Dalits say real accused let off as minors detained for vandalising Barmer graves

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Members of the Dalit community stage a protest in Barmer after graves were vandalised by upper-caste group.

Eleven persons, all of them minors, have been detained on the charge of vandalising graves of people from the Dalit community in Barmer district, apparently in the belief that “chasing away the spirits” there would result in rainfall.

On Tuesday, members of the Dalit community held a dharna accusing police of shielding the real accused.

Dalit leader Udaram Meghwal, the Barmer district president of the Hanuman Beniwal-led Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, who has taken up the matter, said the graves had been vandalised on Sunday, hit with sticks and shoes, and bones of dead animals thrown on them, and that the matter only came to light when a video of the episode went viral.

“Some people from the Rajput community here who are of a feudal mindset sent the miscreants to vandalise the graves of our community. They believe that spirits from the Meghwal community are not letting the monsoon arrive,” he said. Dalits bury their dead here as part of local custom.

Barmer has received very little to no rainfall this season.

Meghwal added that the real accused were much older and had planned the entire incident and sent in minors.

Police registered an FIR on Monday, under Sections 295 (defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of a class), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its beliefs), 297 (trespassing on burial places, etc) and 427 (mischief) of the IPC and relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of atrocities) Act.

The FIR, lodged by the SHO of the Girab Police Station, states that police acted after being alerted about the video, and had visited the graveyard and found traces of salt over the graves.

Accusing the Circle Officer of bias, Meghwal said they told police they knew the people who were behind the vandalism and wanted to lodge an FIR against them. “Instead of registering an FIR based on our complaint, police lodged a suo motu case to shield the accused.”

Dalit groups on Tuesday submitted a memorandum to the Barmer district administration terming the FIR registered by police as a “document to save the accused”, saying it did not include important information and names of accused.

Denying this, Narpat Singh, Additional SP, Barmer Rural, said, “We have detained 11 minors in the case. Prima facie it appears the incident took place because of the belief that driving away the spirits would result in rain.”

He said further investigation was being conducted and if Dalit rights groups submit evidence, police will look into it.

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