Dalit Farmer Beheaded in UP for Refusing to Share Water. Can We Stop Denying that Caste is Still a Problem in India?

Social Commentary

Dalit Farmer Beheaded in UP for Refusing to Share Water. Can We Stop Denying that Caste is Still a Problem in India?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

A brutal incident from Uttar Pradesh highlights how fleeting the illusion of equality can be. A Dalit farmer was beheaded because he refused to share water for irrigation with another farmer. The victim, Nathu Lal Jatav, had a water pipe running across his field that he used to irrigate his crops. The culprit, Roop Kishore, had asked Jatav to share the water, and was refused. This led to an argument that ended in Kishore beheading Jatav with a spade. The fight took place in Din Nagar Sheikhpur village, close to Badaun in UP.

The fight began when Jatav refused Kishore water for his fields, which led him to beat up Jatav with a stick. The Times of India reported that a few locals attempted to separate the two men, but were unsuccessful. When Kishore eventually decapitated Jatav, he panicked and fled from the spot. The onlookers informed Jatav’s son, Ompal, of what had transpired. Ompal also believes that Kishore could not have been acting independently, and that he must have had accomplices when killing Jatav.

A First Information Report was filed against Kishore on the basis of Ompal’s complaint. Police searched the areas surrounding the field and found Kishore hiding in the nearby forest. Kishore was booked for murder and under sections of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. In fact, majority of the population of Din Nagar Sheikhpur village belongs to the Scheduled Castes, but not the assailant, Roop Kishore.

Inter-caste dynamics could have possibly played a role in the altercation between Jatav and Kishore. Also, police are investigating the possibility that Kishore was acting with others. However, the prime accused is already in custody.

Incidents like these are a blot on the state of UP, where atrocities against Dalits frequently make headlines.

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