Wednesday July 18, 2018
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Dalit boy found dead in Haryana after ‘stealing pigeon’

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New Delhi: Days after two Dalit children were burnt alive allegedly by members of an upper caste community in Haryana’s Sun Perh village, a 14-year-old Dalit boy was found hanging near his house with wounds all over his body in the state on Thursday after being detained by police over the alleged theft of a pigeon.

Demanding action against the accused policemen and a compensation of Rs 10 lakh, Govind’s family and several others are sitting with his body on a road near their village in Sonepat district.

“Govind was charged with the theft of a pigeon by local people and then brutally thrashed by police for being a Dalit,” a member of his family reportedly said.

The police, however, claim Govind ran away and committed suicide, but a post mortem has confirmed injuries.

Govind was allegedly questioned by police on Wednesday and when his mother went to the police station to inquire about him, the policemen allegedly sought bribes. However, when she returned with the money, she was allegedly told that Govind had escaped.

“My son went to the police station himself, nothing was proved against him. The policemen asked for Rs. 5,000 from my son. He agreed but then they made a demand of 10,000 rupees,” Govind’s mother said on Friday.

While speaking to media persons, Govind’s brother said: “If someone runs away from police custody, what is the point of the police being there? In the morning, we found his dead body. They took our money and killed him.”

This comes two days after two Dalit children, two-year-old Vaibhav and nine-month-old Divya, were allegedly burnt alive by members of an upper caste community in Haryana’s Sun Perh village.

A police spokesman said, “Some criminals burnt a Jatav family of village Sun Perh, police station Sadar Ballabhgarh of Faridabad district when they were sleeping inside their house. Four members including Jitender, his wife Rekha and two small children namely Vaibhav (son) aged 2 years and Divya (daughter) aged 9 months were inside the room. Subsequently, the fire spread inside the room and both the children expired. Jitender and his wife Rekha also sustained burn injuries.”

Union Minister V K Singh on Thursday stoked a controversy while blaming a family feud for the burning alive of two Dalit children in Haryana and drew an analogy that if someone throws stones at a dog, the government is not responsible.

“If someone throws stones at a dog, the government is not responsible. It was a feud between two families, the matter is under inquiry,” Singh told reporters.

Singh’s statement was widely condemned, forcing him to offer a clarification that he was ‘misquoted’ by media.

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Return to Jammu- A Novel About a Journey

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother's struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

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He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father's transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.
Sanasar, Jammu and Kasmir- wikimedia commons

This is the engrossing tale of Balan, a kid from South India who grows up in the towns of Punjab, Jammu and Haryana. It captures the eventful journey of Balan’s childhood, his schooling, and the friends he makes and loses due to transfers of his father, serving in the Indian Army.

“Return to Jammu” is a first-person narration and with the timelines, places and real-life personalities and events, the reader gets a feeling that it is an autobiographical novel. The author clarifies that all characters and the story per se are fictional but confesses to borrowing liberally from many episodes of his childhood in telling the story.

“If you happen to be acquainted with me enough to perceive a passing resemblance of me in Balan, you would be right; and yet if you find the resemblance rather tenuous and liberally adulterated, you will be equally right too,” says the author in a preliminary note.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college.
V. Raghunathan-Author of the book Return to Jammu, wikimedia commons

Balan, son of a junior commissioned officer hailing from Kerala and having Tamilian roots, is born in the Ambala cantonment in 1954. He narrates his story even before his birth, relying on family tellings.

The author has superbly captured the life of the kid in a cantonment, growing up with two sisters, his mother’s struggle to run the house on a tight budget and his father, a happy-go-lucky man, who avoids the responsibilities of a good husband.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father’s transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.

Settled in Jammu, Balan is admitted into grade two, though just four years and seven months old. He remains younger and tinier than his peer group all through his schooling and even in college. Because of his diminutive size, he is saddled with sobriquets like pocket edition, Lilliputian and Madrasi, and sees his self-esteem falling dangerously.

He describes vividly how the family shifts to Jammu on his father's transfer, giving even the minutest details of their belongings, and of their journey to Jammu via Pathankot.
Jammu and Kashmir Map, wikimedia commons

It’s at Satwari near Jammu that he develops childhood friendship with many, most importantly with Jeevan Asha or Jeesha, who was two years older and also taller than him. Soon, however, Balan’s father is again transferred to Ambala and he is separated from his friends, especially Jeesha. He writes letters to his friends and receives responses from all, except Jeesha.

Overcoming all odds and with hard work, Balan completes his studies and joins the State Bank of India. Now a confident young man, he works hard and finally makes it to the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad. (It was at IIM, Ahmedabad, that the author taught finance.)

Also Read: 70 years after Independence power reaches Elephanta Isle near Mumbai 

There he comes across a girl called Jasmine Pundith. He believes she is his good old buddy Jeesha. Bu she shows no sign of recognition and when he tries to remind her about their childhood friendship, Jasmine tells him that she is a citizen of the US and has no link with Jammu.

Convinced that she is none other than Jeesha, Balan travels to Delhi to find out more about her family. He even returns to Jammu, where he meets her brother Niranjan. What Balan comes to know from him forms the climax of the story.

The book is worth a read also for the author’s eye for detail, whether it is canal system of Jammu, the picturesque Kashmir valley, especially Uri, the pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi, or a visit by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. (IANS)