January 25th, 2012
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Bolangir dalits live in fear

dalit-attackBhubaneswar: Dark cloud of uncertainty looms large over the lives of 200 people housed in the government high school  which has been converted into a temporary camp for the victims of the Bolangir attack. Members of the upper caste village torched at least 30 homes of their lower caste Dalit neighbours at Lathore Village under the Khaprakhol block of Bolangir district, Odisha, on Sunday night following a clash between the two groups over minor altercations . The condition of 168 women and children is critical. “ Seven pregnant women are finding it hard to cope with the falling night temperature. At least five children below the age of one year were not receiving sufficient medical attention,” said Mukesh Suna, a victim.

After the police arrested 42 villagers women belonging to upper caste Mehers staged a road blockade demanding release of men arrested on charges of setting houses of Dalits on fire. They have alleged that the police had been partisan while taking action in the caste clash. According to the upper caste women only members of the upper caste had been arrested while no action was taken against the Dalit youths who attacked the cloth merchants.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced compensation of Rs one lakh each to the 38 Dalit families whose houses were gutted. About 120 policemen were still camping at Lathore village.The situation continues to remain tense and the lives of 200 dalits have been jeopordised. Interestingly a minor misunderstanding in a cloth shop between the upper caste shop owner and the lower caste customer flared into this form of a caste war.



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