PATNA: A Dalit couple and their two minor children were set afire as they slept in their house in Bihar’s eastern Katihar district. The two children died while their badly burnt parents are struggling for life at a hospital, police said on Monday.
The shocking incident is believed to be the fallout of a dispute the poor, Dalit family had with some of their neighbours over a piece of government-owned land. Two suspects have been picked up on the basis of statements given to police by the couple – Bajjan Das and Manju Devi – at Katihar Sadar Hospital.
Police officials said the family’s thatched house at Ghordah village under Azamnagar police station was set afire late on Sunday night. The couple’s two daughters – five-year-old Priti and three-year-old Kiran – died inside the house. Bajjan and Manju suffered deep burn wounds and were rushed to hospital by some neighbours.
“We have picked up two suspects and a probe is on. It appears that it happened because of a festering enmity over a piece of land,” said Katihar SP Vikas Kumar who visited the village on Monday and spoke to local people. District magistrate Poonam, who also came visiting, said the victim couple is being provided the best medical care.
Sources said Bajjan and Manju had built a thatched house on a piece of unoccupied government land in the village and were running a tea shop nearby to eke out a living. Some of their neighbours had been forcing them for the past few months to vacate the land so that they could use it, but the couple had been resisting the pressure. Police said petrol was used to set the house afire.
Dalit leader and former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi expressed shock over the incident and said the perpetrators of the crime should be brought to book soon.