Uttar Pradesh: Dalit Village Development Officer Commits Suicide After Casteist Slurs By Villagers
In Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district, a Dalit village development officer committed suicide after being allegedly humiliated using casteist remarks repeatedly.
Trivendra Kumar Gautam who started his service as a village development officer (VDO) and was posted at Kumbhi block, hanged himself to death at his home last week. His body was recovered last week 130 km north of Lucknow, from the rented accommodation at Shivsagar locality of Lakhimpur town.
Before committing suicide, Gautam left a hand-written letter to his father. In the note, he claimed that the district president of a farmers’ outfit, the head of Rasoolpur village, and the son of another village head were responsible for his decision to die.
Some days ago, a video that had gone viral showed the Gautam being humiliated at a public meeting. In the video, farmer leader Rakesh Chauhan could be heard questioning Gautam’s professionalism and calling him ‘kaamchor’ (shirker). He further said that officers like Gautam should be trashed with shoes and thrown out.
In the viral video, Rakesh Chauhan could be heard saying, “Did you bribe somebody to get this job or have you come in through reservation? See, Tehsildar Sahab, this is the condition we are in. You tell the people that they can’t hold a panchayat without permission, but your own officials are like this man here?” Rakesh Chauhan says in the clip. However, according to NDTV, the authenticity of the video is yet to be verified.
Gautam alleged in his suicide note that he was being humiliated and mentally harassed. He further claimed that he was targeted over the reservation and subjected to abuses. He said that he was troubled and felt like a failure. He wanted the farmers’ party president and the village head to be punished after his death.
Additional Superintendent of Police Shailendra Lal said that five people have been arrested, including the three from the farmers’ outfit. The family members of the deceased also alleged that he was humiliated by “Kisan Union”, led by Bharatiya Kisan Union-Loktantrik (BKU-L) in Lakhimpur Kheri district.
An FIR has been lodged under Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code and various sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and the Information Technology Act.
While four people have been arrested, the main suspect, Rakesh Chauhan, is still at large. “Investigations are on, and no one found involved will be spared,” India Today quoted Lal as saying.
Dozens of village development officers, meanwhile, held a demonstration at the Vikas Bhawan. Under the aegis of the Gram Panchayat Adhikari Sangh, the protestors claimed that if the guilty were not held within three days, they would boycott work. The district magistrate was handed a memorandum by the officers.
The Logical Indian Take
This incident is a grim reminder of Doctor Payal Tadvi’s death, who committed suicide due to casteist slurs being meted out at her in the hospital she worked. Caste discrimination is an ugly reality in India. Injustice against Dalits on account of their caste is a horror that prevails in various parts of the country. While the Constitution of India guarantees equal rights to all citizens, many people still firmly believe that a person’s caste can determine their social status. Incidents of injustice towards Dalits continue to take place month after month, year after year. People from the upper castes reduce Dalits to a level which does not even allow them to eat together at the same table.
Unfortunately, such an evil system has existed unchallenged for decades now. People from lower castes who dare to revolt are often crushed by the society where caste is a deeply ingrained belief.