Dalit’s house torched for eloping with ‘upper-caste’ girl in JumlaPolice have arrested the girl’s brother on charges of criminal arson and caste-based discrimination.
Police on Monday filed criminal arson and caste-based discrimination cases against 21-year-old Himmat Giri, who allegedly torched the house of Mukunda Nepali, a Dalit, for eloping with his sister.
Himmat reportedly set fire to Mukunda’s house in Gidikhola in ward 4 of Tatopani Rural Municipality in the district at 4am on Sunday.
“Cases of criminal arson and caste-based discrimination have been filed against the accused on Monday and an investigation into the matter is underway,” Assistant Police Inspector Raju Sarki told the Post.
According to locals, Mukunda and the girl had been dating for two years. They eloped last week. The girl’s family has refused to accept the union stating that the girl is only 16 years old, labelling it a case of child marriage while the boy’s family accuses them of caste discrimination.
Police have also issued arrest warrants against Himmat’s father and uncle.
Mukunda’s brother, Bharat Nepali, who was away in the district headquarters during the time of the incident, said their house has been completely destroyed. According to him, the villagers tried to douse the fire but were unsuccessful.
The house had already been gutted when a police team led by Assistant Sub Inspector Rajendra Giri reached the incident site.
Based on the victims’ claims, police estimated that property worth around Rs6.5 million was damaged in the fire.
The fire has rendered Bharat and his family homeless while his brother Mukunda and his wife are out of contact.
“We have lost our house and Mukunda is not in contact,” said Bharat. “This atrocity is intolerable.”
Police arrested Himmat from Kalekholi in the district headquarters while he was preparing to fly to Nepalgunj.
Police Inspector Dharma Raj Joshi said the accused told police that he set Mukunda’s house on fire in a fit of rage.
“The accused told us that he acted out of rage,” said Joshi. “There was an ongoing dispute about the couple’s elopement.”
There are 28 Dalit households in the area. The villagers said they were preparing to resolve the dispute after bringing the couple back.
“A solution would have been found following a discussion,” said local Dhanshree Nepali.
Mukunda, who was living in the district headquarters was preparing to enrol in a college to pursue a Bachelor’s degree. According to locals, the girl was a student at a local school in the village.
Joshi said that police units across the Karnali Province have been directed to search for the couple.
Dalits in Nepal have suffered for generations at the hands of the so-called upper-caste people and they continue to face atrocities. Caste-based discrimination is still rife in Nepal even after efforts—and the legislation—to end it.
The Jumla incident serves as a reminder of the 2020 Rukum West incident in which six Dalit youths were killed over an inter-caste love affair.
On May 23, 2020, 21-year-old Nabaraj BK, from Bheri Municipality in Jajarkot district, along with 18 of his friends, had gone to Soti in Chaurjahari Municipality of Rukum West to bring a 17-year-old girl, belonging to a so-called ‘upper caste’, as his bride when the locals attacked them and chased them towards the Bheri River.
Nabaraj along with Ganesh Budha Magar, Tikaram Nepali, Lokendra Sunar, Govinda Shahi and Sandip BK were killed in the incident.