The father of the children, Jitender, 31, has alleged that members of the upper caste Thakur community, with whom they had a long-running quarrel, attacked the family at about 2 am. A special police posting had been made in the village, Sonped, about a year ago after a similar attack, relatives of the victims claim.
"We were sleeping when they poured petrol through the window. I smelt the petrol and tried to wake my wife but by then the fire had started. My children died in the fire," said Jitender, sobbing.
His wife Rekha, 28, is in a hospital in Delhi with 70 per cent burns. His son two-and-a-half year old son Vaibhav and daughter Divya, 11 months old, were killed instantly.
"They had threatened me that they will finish my family, that I should never return to the village," said Jitender who too was injured.
Three people have been arrested so far in the incident and eight others are absconding. The village, which is dominated by Thakurs and has only a few Dalit families, is tense and security has been tightened, the police said.
According to Jitender's brother Shiv Kumar, last year in October, three people from the Thakurs were killed in a scuffle that broke out between the two communities over allegations of a stolen cellphone and their relative Dalbir was sent to jail. Two months later, Jitender's family was allegedly attacked and their home was burnt down.
"But they were not home and only their cattle was killed. Since then constables were assigned to guard Jitender and his family," Shiv Kumar said.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh called up Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and has asked him to ensure the safety of Dalit families. Haryana is governed by the BJP, which also leads ruling coalition at the Centre.
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