Rajat Sharma

Kanpur deaths: Yogi must take strongest action against the guilty

AKBThe brutal incident in Madauli village under Metha tehsil of Kanpur Dehat in Uttar Pradesh, in which a mother and her daughter died on Monday during anti-eviction drive has caused outrage across the nation.

Video of both the victims rushing into their hut to prevent demolition, the hut suddenly erupting into flames and a bulldozer demolishing the burning hut has caused considerable anguish in the minds of people. All this happened in the presence of policemen, lady constables, tehsildar, Lekhpal and the SDM.

The hut belonged to Krishna Gopal Dikshit, who suffered serious burn injuries, while his wife Pramila (41 years) and daughter Neha (21 years) perished in the fire. The video clearly showed Pramila resisting the demolition squad and then rushing inside the hut with her daughter. Policemen forcibly broke the door of the hut which suddenly went into flames. Dikshit and his son Shivam managed to come out of the burning hut. While the two women were dying in flames, the bulldozer demolished whatever remained of the hut. The demolition was carried out on the basis of complaint filed by the Lekhpal, who said, it was built on village community land.

Nobody knows who set the hut on fire. In the video was heard the voice of an official directing the bulldozer driver to go ahead and demolish the hut. This hut was built only a month back in place of a concrete building that was earlier demolished by local officials. The family claims the house was built on ancestral land.

Eyewitnesses say, it was the Lekhpal who himself set the hut on fire, during the melee. Soon after the macabre incident, the SDM, Lekhpal and other officials ran away from the spot.

As the matter got out of hand, senior officials of UP government rushed to the village. Kanpur divisional commissioner Raj Shekhar, DM Neha Jain, Additional DGP Alok Kumar and other officials went to the village and tried to persuade the residents to allow cremation of the bodies. UP deputy chief minister Brajesh Pathak spoke to Pramila’s son on phone and promised action against all offenders. The bodies were finally cremated on Wednesday morning.

According to Divisional Commissioner Raj Shekhar, the SDM of Metha tehsil Gyaneshwar Prasad has been suspended, while the bulldozer driver Deepak Kumar and Lekhpal Ashok Singh have been arrested. Police have filed FIR against the SDM, Lekhpal, Station Officer of Rura police station Dinesh Kumar Gautam, three other officials, 12 to 15 police personnel and three local residents (all Brahmins) under Sector 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 436, 429 and section 34 of IPC.

Minister of state Pratibha Shukla blamed the District Magistrate Neha Jain for this horrible incident. She and Pramila’s son Shivam Dikshit said, the family members tried to meet the DM in January, but she refused to listen to their pleas and instead directed officials to file cases against them. “It was not a matter of eviction, but a careful plot to murder the entire family”, Shivam said.

On the day the horrible incident occurred, the District Magistrate was gleefully dancing on stage at the Kanpur Mahotsav. Minister of state Pratibha Shukla described the DM as “insensitive”.

Opposition parties including Samajwadi Party and Congress staged protests against this incident. SP leaders were prevented by police from visiting the village. They described the present government as “anti-Brahmin” and alleged that the state government was trying to shield the DM.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi in her tweet said, “BJP government’s bulldozer, with an inhuman vision, has become a threat to humanity and sensitivity. The heartrending incident in Kanpur deserves to be condemned. We must raise our voice against such inhuman action. We demand that the victim family in Kanpur must get justice and strong action must be taken against the guilty.”

Her brother Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “When the arrogance of power snatches away the right of life from people, it is known as dictatorship. I am deeply pained over the Kanpur incident. This ‘bulldozer policy” has become the cruel face of this government. India will never accept this.”

Two women in a family were burnt alive, but political parties are viewing this incident through the prism of caste. There can be nothing more unfortunate than this. This is a very narrow approach.

We must understand the realities. First, the hut which was demolished with a bulldozer belonged to a Brahmin family. Second, the person on which the charge of murder has been made is a Brahmin. How can this be treated as an atrocity on Brahmins? When both the offender and victim are Brahmins, where does the question of caste arise? This matter is clearly a case of misuse of official position and power at a lower level, that smacks of connivance and bribery.

A man files a complaint and the Lekhpal, in cahoots with him, demolishes the hut with a bulldozer. He sets the hut on fire. The local police also acted in connivance, and watched as silent spectator. The SDM is responsible because he only did the paperwork and watched the hut set on blaze.

Even the DM is not innocent. This family had met the DM a month ago with its plea, but she shooed them off. The Lekhpal filed a case against this family, alleging them as part of land mafia. A family, that had no roof on its head, and had only 22 goats, was being described as land mafia. Senior officials remained silent. Clearly, the Lekhpal gained confidence and turned into a devil. Action must be taken against all those who are responsible for this horrible incident. I have full hope that Yogi Adityanath will take the strongest action at the earliest.

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