Faridabad arson: Fight between two thriving families?

Faridabad: In a horrendous incident, two children were burnt alive when a Dalit family’s house was set afire in a Faridabad village on Tuesday — and residents say the arson was the result of a fight between two families and not an inter-community strife.

Police have detained four people — Balwant, Kartar, Guddu and another relative — over the incident. All four belong to the influential Balu Rajput camp in Sunped village in Faridabad district.

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The four upper-caste accused, it is alleged, doused the house of Jitender, a Dalit resident, with petrol and set it afire early on Tuesday, police said.

The village, near Ballabgarh, is home to around 5,000 people who are a mix of high-caste Rajputs or Thakurs and the Dalits. While there are 300 Rajput or Thakur families, 100 houses belong to Dalits.

According to villagers and senior police officers, a bitter rivalry has been existing for almost three decades between the Rajput Balu family and the Dalit Lalji camp.

“Both the groups have been fighting for nearly last three decades over petty issues. Brotherhood among rest of the villagers or society was never affected due to the enmity between the Balu and Lalji camps,” Jal Singh, the Sunped village head told IANS.

The Balu camp comprises rich landlords (farmers) of Sunped village while the Lalji camp members are mostly in government service, including in telecom sector and armed forces — a few of the latter are also in law and medical professions, said an elderly villager adding that the fight betwen them is one of one-upmanship.

“We do not have any problem with the rest of the villagers,” Jitender’s cousin Surender told IANS, adding that only the Balu camp doesn’t want to see them in the village.

He said Jitender, who runs a clinic in Ballabgarh, had returned to the village around six months back after leaving the village with his family following an October 5, 2014 clash in which three people from the Balu camp were killed.

Jitender and his three family members were sleeping in their house when it was set on fire.

Jitender, his wife Rekha, four-year-old son Vaibhav and eight-month-old daughter Divya alias Dibbo were rescued from the burning house and rushed to Safdarjung hospital in Delhi where both the children succumbed to their burns, said villagers.

Police said Jitender’s condition was stated to be out of danger while Rekha remained very critical having suffered over 80 percent burns.

Balwant Singh from the Balu Rajput camp and Jagpal Singh from the Dalit Lalji camp have remained sarpanch of Sunped village.

Meanwhile, P.L. Punia, Rajya Sabha member and chairperson of National Commission for Scheduled Castes, visited the village during the day and reviewed the situation.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar spoke to sarpanch Jal Singh over phone and assured Rs.10 lakh compensation for the victim family.

Deputy commissioner of Police (Ballabgarh) Bhupinder Singh said the situation in the village was under control.