2010 Mirchpur violence casts shadow over polls

Over 60 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel at six pickets in Mirchpur village, Haryana is a shrill reminder of the caste violence that shamed the state way back in April 2010.

The CRPF has not moved out of the village since then, given the uneasy calm that lingers.

As Haryana votes on Thursday, the conflict over a trivial issue that left two, including a handicapped girl, dead and dozens of Dalit houses torched and reduced to ashes, will cast its shadow on the polls.

The impact on sentiments of the minority community is writ large and the aftermath of the violence has polarised the communities even further along caste lines in Hisar’s Mirchpur.

The incident lay bare the wedge between Dalits and the upper community Jats.
Observers feel the violence sharpened the caste conflict in Haryana even further, which may lead to a pattern of polling where one or the other community votes on factional lines.

Haryana is dominated by upper caste Jats, constituting 27 per cent of the population. The Scheduled Caste represent 20 per cent of the population.
The incumbent Congress government is likely to be hard hit, despite whatever it did to secure and rehabilitate the affected Dalit families.

The Congress has fielded a Jat candidate from Hisar, so has the INLD.
The formidable Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) chief and sitting MP Kuldeep Bishnoi, a non-Jat leader, is once again in the electoral fray from Hisar and stands to gain from consolidation of non-Jat votes.

Till date, close to 150 families have not returned home. They have taken shelter in a farmhouse of a local politician on the outskirts.

Continued trouble

Sources said even after four years, the animosity simmers. At a recent wedding of a Jat family in the village, none of the Dalit families were invited or even given the ceremonial shagun or gift money.

The Jats are angry that the Dalits deposed against them in the court which eventually led to the conviction of 15 upper community members.

State Congress leaders say they did everything to help the families–from reconstructing their houses, supporting Dalit youth with vocational jobs and even ensuring that their children are admitted to government and private schools.
But in the 2011 by-election in Hisar, the seat was bagged by Bishnoi who now fancies another term.

While the population of Dalits in the village is far less than the upper caste Jats, the incident still lingers on in voters mind across all constituencies. 

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