UP: ‘From Bridal Dress to Funeral Shroud’, Brothers Weep Over Mother-Sister Ashes
Neha and her Mother (File Photo)
Kanpur/Lucknow: Shivam Dixit (29) and Ansh Dixit (18) were busy preparing for their sister's wedding, which was to be held next month. Little did they know that before seeing their lone sister, Neha (20), in a wedding dress, they would see her wrapped in a funeral shroud. Not only their sister, their mother, Pramila (45), was also charred to death on Monday. The duo died as the hut they lived in was set on fire, allegedly by policemen, during an anti-encroachment drive in Kanpur Dehat.
"I was planning to see her in a wedding dress but now I had to wrap her in a funeral shroud," an inconsolable Shivam told NewsClick, weeping on the ashes scattered everywhere. He said his mother and sister's death had left him numb.
"Imagine seeing your own mother and sister burnt to ashes in front of your eyes. You feel helpless. My father narrowly escaped death, that too in front of the district administration. I am like a walking dead," he said, his face reflecting a deep sense of uncertainty about the future.
Both the brothers are currently holding fort for the family, and agreed to cremate the bodies only after the administration announced the suspension of the sub-divisonal magistrate (SDM) and the revenue officer, and lodged a case of murder against them and some police officials. The SDM and the revenue officer were later taken into custody.
Shivam, a jobless graduate, recently started a business of sale and purchase of goats, while his youngest brother Ansh helps his father in farming.
Meanwhile, there was heavy police deployment in and around the village as tension prevailed after the deaths.
The controversy started last month when the Dixits’ original house was demolished on January 13 on the instructions of SDM Maitha, Gyaneshwar Prasad, revenue inspector Nand Kishore and Lekhpal Ashok Singh Chauhan, citing complaints of illegal construction on 'gram sabha' land. The demolition was done on the basis of a complaint filed by one Gedan Lal.
A thatched hut near the Dixit’s house was not demolished then, but they were given a warning to remove it as soon as possible. However, the family claims they were 'thrown out' when they approached senior officials seeking relief.
On February 13, a month after the first round of demolition, a team of administrative officers and policemen, flanked by bulldozers, arrived again to clear the encroachment. During the drive, the mother-daughter duo was reportedly burnt alive in the hut.
The complaint filed by Shivam Dixit has alleged that their makeshift hut was razed by the bulldozer and set on fire at the behest of the SDM. In a purported video that surfaced online, women inside a hut can be heard screaming and vehemently protesting while cops and revenue department officials at the spot are heard giving directions to clear the encroachment.
"Our personal rivals were pressuring the police and administration to take action against us for a long time. A group of people, that includes our distant relatives, were harassing us following differences with my father,” said Shivam, who got married two years ago and has a two-month baby.
Based on the complaint, a First Information Report (FIR) under murder and other relevant Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been registered against 23 individuals, including the SDM Maitha, the in-charge of Rura station, four lekhpals, a JCB driver, and four local residents named Ashok Dixit, Anil Dixit, Nirmal Dixit, and Vishal, have been charged in connection
'BULLDOZER — ILLEGITIMATE POWER OF BJP'
The incident has triggered a huge backlash in the state with the Opposition parties accusing the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government of 'harassing' and 'intimidating' people with use of bulldozers to demolish 'illegal' houses.
The Opposition parties alleged that 'brahmins' (upper castes) were being 'targeted' by the BJP government in the state. They alleged this was not the first case and several such incidents of ‘brutality’ have been reported under the current regime.
"The arrogance of being in power has reduced a family to ashes ... Not only Kanpur city or Kanpur Dehat, people across Uttar Pradesh are being subjected to injustice by the ruling BJP," Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav said.
Demanding strict punishment to the accused involved in the case, the SP said in a tweet:
भाजपा ने बुलडोज़र को अपनी ग़ैरक़ानूनी ताक़त दिखाने का प्रतीक बना लिया है!
कानपुर देहात में SDM और लेखपाल ने गरीब परिवार का घर बुलडोजर से किया ध्वस्त, आग लगने के कारण मां बेटी की जिंदा जलकर हुई मौत।
इस दिल दहला देने वाली वारदात से पूरा प्रदेश स्तब्ध है।
दोषियों को मिले सख्त सजा। pic.twitter.com/T42P7UUZp0
— Samajwadi Party (@samajwadiparty) February 14, 2023
(BJP has made bulldozers a symbol to display its illegal power! In Kanpur Dehat, SDM and Lekhpal demolished the poor family's house with bulldozer, and the mother daughter burnt alive due to fire. The entire state is shocked by this heart-wrenching incident. Accused should be punished severely." )
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Wednesday said the “self-immolation” of a mother-daughter duo during an anti-encroachment drive had garnered more attention than the recent UP Global Investors Summit-2023.
"The "bulldozer politics" of the BJP government is taking the lives of innocent poor people which is very tragic. The government should change its anti-people approach," she said in a tweet in Hindi.
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