M A I N   N E W S

Caste harassment leads to suicide by 9
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 13
Caste-based harassment led to a poverty-ridden family of nine committing suicide in the early hours of this morning at Dateli village under Mitauli police station, about 40 km from Lakhim Kheri district headquarters.

When the villagers rushed to the help of this family after hearing screams around 10 on Sunday night they were in for a rude shock. They found the head of the family Ram Kishan (55), his wife Savitiri (50), mother Ram Kali (70), sons Vinay (25), Vineet (20) Chote (10) and daughters Mohini (16) and Rajni (8) vomiting and writhing great pain. A three-year-old daughter was the only member who had not been administered poison.

Empty bottles of a popular pesticide were scattered all over the place. When the shell-shocked villagers asked why the family had resorted to this extreme measure all that Ram Krishan said was “jo kuch hua theek hua”(whatever happened was alright), informed SP of Lakhim Kheri Zaki Ahmad.

The villagers with great difficulty rushed the family to the district hospital in Khiri town a good 40 km away. While the older members did not survive, the youngest 9-year old Rajni is fighting for her life at the hospital.

A cross section of villagers who had collected at the village said that Ram Kishan, a Patwa (OBC) by caste, was a self-respecting and hardworking landless poor of this predominantly Brahmin village. He survived by hawking bangles and other cosmetic items by cycle along with his elder sons in the surrounding villages.

Last year the family had built a one-room house by money received under the Indira Awas Yojana. Despite a meager income he had educated all his children and they had studied up to Class VIII and the younger ones were still attending school. He had high aspirations for his children.

His life went topsy turvy last fortnight when his 16-year old daughter Mohini became victim of an age-old enmity between two high caste persons of the village. In a written complaint one of them, Turra accused another Ashok Shukla of being a bad character and threatening people with illegal arms.

Naming Ram Kishan’s teenaged daughter the complainant had charged that Shukla was involved with a young girl from the village.

After this the police had come to his house to enquire about his daughter’s reported relationship with a high caste man. He was later summoned to the police station where he was reportedly subjected to caste-based harassment.

Following this a whisper campaign started in the village putting the family under tremendous pressure. Even the Pradhan Satya Prakash Mishra believed the rumour and repeated it to the curious onlookers who had collected from the surrounding villages as the news of the suicides spread like wildfire in the area.

Admitting that this was the “most probable” cause for the family taking the extreme decision of putting an end to their lives, SP Ahmad said that till now the police had not been able to establish any other plausible reason.

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