Unnao Case: What the fields hide: The crushed dreams of Dalit girls

Photos from the homes of the three cousins in Baburaha village of Unnao who were found in a mustard field. Two of them were buried this morning. The photographs throw light on their lives and their poverty.

Neetu Singh
| Updated: February 19th, 2021

The spot where three minor Dalit girls were found in an unconscious state in Unnao on Feb 17. Pic: Neetu Singh/Gaon Connection

On February 17, three Dalit girls, all cousins, in Baburaha village of Unnao district left their home at around 3 pm to bring fodder for the cattle. They went to the outskirts of the village to a farmland about a kilometre away, like they always did. When they did not return till evening, family members started searching for them. They found the girls lying unconscious in a mustard field. 

Two of them, aged 15 and 17, were declared dead on arrival at hospital, while the third, 16 years old, is battling for life. The deceased were buried in their farm this morning. 

Gaon Connection‘s photo feature ‘Remains Of The Day’. Scroll to see what’s left of three cousins, minor Dalit girls, who set out to gather fodder? 

Half-burnt firewood pulled out before one of the girls who died, stepped out to gather fodder, after cooking and serving lunch. The stove still has ashes from that last meal. There are some stiff, now-stale rotis she made. The bare kitchen is proof of their poverty.
Pic: Neetu Singh/Gaon Connection

A relative consoles the mother of one of the victims. The parents are in shock. What began as a routine day took away two of their children while one is battling for her life in hospital. Pic: Neetu Singh/Gaon Connection

A little girl belonging to the same family looks at the fields she will head to in some years to gather fodder for the livestock they raise at home. What must be her thoughts? Pic: Neetu Singh/Gaon Connection

This is a scene reminiscent of how the three girls would bring back fodder every evening from the fields, laughing and giggling over their world. On February 17, they did now know what fate awaited them in the mustard fields. Pic: Neetu Singh/Gaon Connection

The buffaloes at the entrance of the 15-year-old victim’s home. Her grandparents say she looked after the animals, bringing them fodder and water. They wonder how they’ll live without her. Pic: Neetu Singh/Gaon Connection

The sparse kitchen, where one of the girls who died, cooked her last meal for the family. She was 15, and had lost her mother when she was 12 days old. She was raised by her grandparents, who are crushed by what has happened.
Pic: Neetu Singh/Gaon Connection

An unfinished brick house, a charpoy by the front yard, a ledge to hold the water jug. This was the world the three girls inhabited. And they laughed a lot, say neighbours.  Pic: Neetu Singh/Gaon Connection

A mother of one of the 17-year-old victim is inconsolable. A neighbour offers her water. Today was supposed to be the day a prospective groom came to see her. Instead, she was buried today. The family keeps swooning in grief and neighbours sprinkle water on their face to get them to open their eyes. Pic: Neetu Singh/Gaon Connection

The Dalit minor girl is back home. Dead. To be buried in the field from where she used to bring fodder for the cattle. Pic: Neetu Singh/Gaon Connection

The bodies of the girls were brought home last evening before they were buried today. It was a cold night, and the family members huddled around a bonfire. There was heavy police presence and the local administration was present in strength during the burial. The cousins now rest eternally in a corner of the family’s field. Pic: Neetu Singh/Gaon Connection