Riot: Who Benefits?

Dominant groups often use violent forms of protest to press their point. This video from Haryana, India shows how an entire community suffers during such riot.

In Haryana’s Hissar district, where Satyawan Verma – the correspondent of this video lives, hundreds of youth from the Jat community went on a rampage for 3 days from 13-15 September 2010. They were demanding inclusion of the Jat community in the list of Other Backward Caste (OBC). Once included in the list, the community would get reservation in Government jobs and educational institutions.

During the 3 day demonstration, the youth vandalized public and private properties, blocked highways, attacked and looted shops and even the railway station and police station on fire.

Now, how does such violence affect a community, especially one based in a remote village? According to Satyawan, ways that the villagers suffer are too many to count. Children who go to nearby towns because there are no schools in the village, are stranded as buses do not ply and must walk for miles to reach back home. Communication service is paralyzed. Daily wage earners don’t find work. Small businesses, ransacked by the mob, are forced to close down. Hospitals provide no service. Above all, every member of the community lives in fear – like Satyawan did, anticipating the mob to attack his village any time.

The government often turns a blind eye to such rioters, like Haryana government did. But so great was the damage caused by the riot this time, that it forced a local NGO called Anti-Corruption Federation of India to move the court against the rioters. The NGO filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Haryana High Court, demanding compensation for private businesses that suffered heavy losses in the arson. The court, in turn, asked the government to explain what action it was initiating against both the rioters and the police.

The verdict on the case may take a long time to come. But Satyawan decided to shoot this video to voice the opinion of his community, whose loss and the sufferings, he personally shared. Shooting the riot was a risky act for Satyawan and even now he is afraid of being attacked by one of the rioters.

But for Satyawan, who was also the head of his village council for past 5 years prior to joining IndiaUnheard, speaking out is important because it is the only way to highlight the social wrongs of our society. If you like Satyawan’s video, do leave a reply.

Also, click here to watch other community video reports of Satyawan.

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