India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh has called on Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Khattar to increase security in his state following the murder of two Dalit children on Monday (19 October). The incident took place in Faridabad late into the night, with the children burned alive after unidentified suspects allegedly poured petrol through their window and lit the house on fire.
The father of the children, Jitender, believes members of the upper caste Rajput community are behind the attack. He said he had an altercation with some of them a few days before his children were killed. The two-year-old and 11-month-old were killed instantly, while Jitender's wife is said to be suffering from 70% burns to her body.
"They had threatened me that they will finish my family, that I should never return to the village," Jitender told local broadcaster NDTV. "I won't but please give me back my children." He also said he had returned to his village to file a police case against the concerned people but that it is yet to be registered.
The police have confirmed they are searching for the alleged attackers and are also said to be looking into why the incident took place in the first place despite increased security for the Navratri festival period.
Singh expressed concern over the attack and has requested the local chief minister further ensurea the safety of Dalits, also known as "the untouchables". A spokesperson for the Home Ministry said: "The union home minister asked the chief minister to ensure peace and that such incidents don't recur in the future."
Khattar said on Twitter that he "strongly condemned" the "shocking incident" and had would be offering 10 lakhs (£9,930) "interim financial assistance to members of the bereaved families". He said he had also directed law enforcement agencies to "find and take strict action" against the accused.
Many Indians also took to Twitter on 20 October to condemn the attack, with some criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his silence on the incident. Meanwhile, more than 46,000 people signed a petition calling on Modi to "reduce caste based reservation" in India.