NEW DELHI -- Agitation over the death of two Dalit children in Haryana escalated on Wednesday, with protestors blocking the Faridabad Highway and the Delhi-Agra Highway, while refusing to cremate their bodies for almost the whole day.
Television news channels showed images of protestors marching on the road, and carrying the bodies of the two children, a baby girl and her two-year-old brother, who were burnt alive on Tuesday morning after men from the Rajput community allegedly set them on fire.
"I woke up when I felt a few drops of petrol on my hand. But before I could do anything, they had lit the match," Jitender, their father, told ANI. His wife was admitted to Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi with 70 percent burns.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar's decision to postpone his visit to Sunped village to meet Jitender, further aggravated the Dalit community. But the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled government agreed to the family's demand for an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
By Wednesday evening, however, the family of the children had agreed to cremate them - a day-and-a-half after they died - NDTV reported.
Earlier in the day, politicians, including Rahul Gandhi, visited Sunped village in Faridabad.
After speaking with Jitender, Gandhi told the media that he had not come for a photo opportunity, and he was willing to extend every help to the Dalit family.
Lashing out at the BJP, which is ruling at the centre and in the state, Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Khattar for the intercaste violence in Sunped village.
"They are poor and helpless that is why they were attacked," he said. "This is an attitude shared by PM, CM & BJP-RSS. The attitude is that if someone is weak then they can be crushed. What you are seeing is the result of this attitude."
Gandhi was particularly rattled over "photo-op" remarks made by the media.
Its not an insult to me, but an insult to these people here. pic.twitter.com/eYAvUc3qel
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) October 21, 2015
So far, the Haryana government has arrested four people based on a preliminary investigation, and suspended seven police personnel who were stationed in Sunped village to protect Dalits following a deadly clash between Rajputs and Dalits, last year.
State police officials have said that this tragic episode is a consequence of last year's incident in which three Rajputs were killed, and 11 persons from the Dalit community, including two of Jitender's brothers, were arrested in the case.
Shortly after Gandhi visited the Dalit family, BJP's Shahnawaz Hussain's hit back at the Congress Party. "Rahul Gandhi seems to have forgotten that most of cases of atrocities on Dalits happened during Congress rule in Haryana," he said, ANI reported.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that he had spoken to Khattar about the situation. "These kind of incidents should not happen," he said.
Even though he has allied with the BJP for the ongoing state elections in Bihar, Dalit leader Ram Vilas Paswan blamed the government in Haryana for the tragedy.
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