As one enters Rainpada village in Dhule district, one is greeted by empty houses, many of which have been left open. Days earlier, five men were lynched to death by a furious mob here. In the village, senior citizens are seen lying on the floors of houses amid garbage, without food or water. Residents are worried about the future of their village.
70-year-old Dahilya Bahire lives in a house which is only partially covered by a roof. For the past three days, Bahire has not eaten any food, as his two sons have run away along with their families. In his house, which was built as part of a government scheme, there is no food — whether raw or cooked. When this reporter visited the village, Bahire was too weak to walk in order to get food, or to explain what he was going through.
On 1 July five men of the Nathpandhi Davri Gosavi community — a nomadic group — were lynched to death in the gram panchayat office of Rainpada. The police have arrested several villagers, accusing them of involvement in the brutal crime. Fearing further police action, villagers, especially men, have fled the village, leaving older people and animals behind. Animals were seen roaming free around the village, with the people who used to look after them gone.
Rajubai Kokani, a teacher at an anganwadi centre, said, “The anganwadi has 104 children enrolled with it. But since Monday, not a single one of them has turned up." Similarly, an ashramshala in the village has 450 students on its rolls, including 70 from Rainpada itself. However, no student has come here since Monday.
People who stayed back after the incident are worried about their future. All of them depend on farming for their livelihood, and the sowing season has just begun.
Kalubai, a villager, said, “If we don't sow seeds, then there will be no harvest, and hence no food this year. How will we survive then? Most of us are tribals and are illiterate."
The owner of the flour mill in the village has run away and so, people have no way of grinding food grains. Further, there has been no water supply for three days, as the gram panchayat office is closed and the sarpanch has fled.
Locals rue that the image of Rainpada has been tarnished because of the lynching. Vishwas Gangurde, a gram panchayat member who tried to stop the violent mob, says, "In just one day, Rainpada came to be identified as the village where five people were lynched. In the eyes of other people, the residents of the village will be seen as criminals. However, people from many nearby villages were part of the mob. The five victims were caught at nearby Kakrapada, and the people there brought them here while beating them up. Our village's name got tarnished unnecessarily. Only five of the 23 arrested people are from Rainpada. But the damage has been done, and we don't know how we can undo it."
Another local, Sakharam Pawar said, “The weekly Sunday market is held on the road where the gram panchayat office is located. People from 15-20 nearby villages come to the market to buy vegetables, clothes and many other household articles. Although people from many villages were involved in the the lynching, the police have targeted this village. The incident has become a blot (for Rainpada)."
A social activist said, "Tribals in Rainpada are in a relatively better condition, as they have land and engage in farming. They are known for their generosity, as they often provide food and shelter to nomadic people. Whatever happened is bad, especially for women and children."
This is the second part of a series. Read the first part here.
Updated Date: Jul 05, 2018 18:13 PM