Senior Rajasthan Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Tuesday condemned the killing of a Dalit schoolboy in the Congress-ruled state for drinking water from a pot marked for so-called “upper castes”, questioning the delay in action against policemen who have been accused of beating the victim’s family.
“Just because we are in government, we cannot take things for granted,” he told NDTV, on his way back after meeting them. The incident has set off a new crisis for the Ashok Gehlot government, with criticism from within the party, including the resignation of an MLA.
“The government has taken action against the teacher and school. There is some financial compensation also, but what is far more important is that when the boy’s body was brought, there was a police lathi-charge on the family and other people who had gathered,” Mr Pilot said.
“The father and the grandfather sustained injuries. They are still in fear. I have assured them we will provide all security but clearly, there is a sense of fear in the community,” he said.
Asked if the police crackdown on the family was a failure of the Rajasthan government, the Congress leader said, “I don’t know what the circumstances could have been. I think the government must take action against the police officers involved. I don’t know why there is a delay.”
The 44-year-old dismissed talk of the incident baring the friction between him and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot – Mr Pilot had led a revolt just two years ago that had rocked the government before it was eventually mitigated.
“We get along fine enough to work together and do better for the party and the government. But this is not about individuals, it’s about a boy who has lost his life,” he said.
“After 75 years of Independence, if we face a dilemma like this in any part of our country, it is unacceptable. We need to do a lot more to win the confidence of people who stood by us… I don’t think it’s enough to say ‘it happens in other states’. That’s not the way anyone in authority should act,” Mr Pilot added.