Lucknow: In another case of caste atrocities in Uttar Pradesh, three minor dalit sisters in Gonda district received burn injuries on their face and neck when an unidentified attacker allegedly threw acid on them while they were asleep at home in the early hours of Tuesday.
On Wednesday afternoon, the accused was arrested, police sources told NewsClick.
The accused was reportedly arrested following an ‘encounter’ with police personnel in Huzurpur area late Tuesday evening. He sustained injuries during the ‘encounter’ and has been hospitalised for treatment.
Speaking to NewsClick, ASP Mahendra Kumar said: "We have arrested a person named Ashish alias Chotu who accused of the acid attack."
The sisters, aged 8, 12, and 17 years, residents of Paska village under Paraspur police circle jurisdiction in Gonda district, were sleeping on the roof of their house when they were reportedly attacked by an unidentified person. While two of them received minor burn injuries, one has sustained injuries on her face and neck, Gonda SP Shailesh Kumar Pandey confirmed.
The three victims are undergoing treatment at the district hospital and are stated to be out of danger, news agency PTI reported.
"Three minor sisters were attacked with a chemical while sleeping on the first floor of their house. Doctors are investigating what chemical was used. The girls are stable. The eldest, whose engagement was fixed for October 23, and who appeared to be the prime target of the attack, has suffered eye and injuries. While two others has received 20% and 7% burn injuries," Pandey told reporters, adding that police was questioning the girls and police teams to track down the culprit.
Meanwhile, the girls' father Ram Avatar claimed he had no enmity with was clueless about the motive behind the crime.
The ASP said: "A case was registered at the Paraspur police station after an acid-like chemical was thrown on three minor girls. Soon after that police launched a search for the accused and late evening, a police team saw him arriving on a motorcycle. His bike slipped when he saw the police jeep and he opened fire at police, and police personnel retaliated in self-defence during which the accused got injured.”
The police also claimed that the bike of the accused had been seized and a pistol and cartridges were recovered from his possession.
The crime comes in the wake of the alleged gang-rape and murder of a 19-year-old dalit woman in Hathras. The midnight cremation of her body by the police, keeping the family away from the rituals, has created a massive outrage across the country.
Following this, on October 13, in Lalitpur district on, a 65-year-old dalit man was allegedly forced to drink urine and was beaten up, along with his son.
According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, there has been an increase of 7.3% in crimes against Scheduled Caste people with 45,935 cases -- an increase from 42,793 cases registered in 2018. Uttar Pradesh alone accounts for over 25% of the total cases by recording the highest number of atrocities against SC people in the country.
The National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ), and the National Campaign of Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) said the recent cases of rapes of dalit girls in Hathras, Lakhimpur Kheri and Balrampur expose the existing plight of the marginalised community in Uttar Pradesh.
Ram Dular, state coordinator, NDMJ-NCDHR, Uttar Pradesh said the grievous nature of the gang-rapes expose the intersectional areas of caste and gender with dalit women bearing the brunt of systemic violence perpetrated by people from the upper caste.
Dalit activist Kanwal Bharti said a significant amount of violence recorded was ‘backlash violence’. “As long as the mindset of discrimination and untouchability exist, violence will continue. The only way we can undo it is by implementing the existing policies,” said Bharti, adding that there was a climate of hate against the marginalised in the country, she said.
“Are dalits being tortured for being empowered? The accused feel they will have impunity,” Bharti asked.