Nagaur, Rajasthan: 50 year old Babu Lal Meghwal sits right in front of the district collector’s house in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district, he has been here on protest for the past 41 days demanding justice.
Mr Meghwal, who is a Dalit, will mark the 42nd day of his protest on Dr Ambedkar’s birth anniversary.
Almost two months ago on February 18 his hut was set on fire, even as he, his 80 year old mother and 7 year old son slept inside.
The motive behind the crime, is allegedly a dispute over 2 acres of agricultural land. He says his family has been tilling the land here for generations, but the title deed is not clearly in his name. He alleges that some members of the OBC Raika or shepherd community have, in the past, tried to grab his land. The dispute was still pending in court when on the night February 18 when Mr Meghwal found that his hut had been set on fire
“When I realised the hut was on fire, I woke up and called out to my mother and my child. We tried to run out of the hut but those five people were standing right outside, we realised if we ran out they would kill us, so we escaped from the back of the hut,” says Mr Meghwal.
He rushed his mother to hospital in Jodhpur, but the 80 year old was so severely burned she did not survive. His 7-year-old son has recovered but still carries burn marks on his body, a reminder of that horrific night.
Day after the attack, Mr Meghwal filed a police complaint naming five attackers. “The police is yet to make headway in the investigations or arrest the culprits.” Mr Meghwal told media.
A delayed investigation has meant that the culprits have now gone missing, says Mr Meghwal.
Deputy Superintendent of police Goverdharn Lal, who defended the delay, said, “It is a murder case, so obviously investigation took time.” He further says, “Since they belong to a nomadic community, they cannot untraceable as they have gone away.”
In 2013, Rajasthan recorded the highest number of cases of atrocities against Dalits and Mr Meghwal’s case only affirms the state’s abysmal record in crimes against the Scheduled castes.