Jaipur: A video has surfaced on social media of a Dalit boy, tied up and being beaten by a group of saffron-clad men in Dhaneria village in Rajasthan’s Pali district. The boy, bound with ropes, begs for mercy as the men assault him with sticks.
The boy’s family said he had entered the Kumbaji Maharaj temple, which a few Kumawat men, an OBC caste, from the village objected to. “My nephew went to see a procession in the temple and some men thrashed him for going into their temple,” Babu Dholi, the boy’s maternal uncle, told The Wire.
The family did not report the incident, they said, as their community is powerless in the village. “There is only one house of our community in this village. We can’t stand up to the Kumawat community, which has at least 600 houses here. So we thought it better to avoid them. These men have misbehaved with our community many times in the past and always gone scot-free,” added Dholi.
The police version differs, however. “The boy and a Vaishnav priest’s daughter were found in a compromising position at the temple, after which the boy was assaulted,” said Gopal Bishnoi, sub-inspector at the Ras police station in Pali.
Speaking to The Wire, Prem Prakash, station house officer of the Ras police station in Pali district said, “When the Dalit boy was thrashed by some men a few days ago, we had requested his family to file a report with us. They didn’t do. Meanwhile, the girl’s family registered a case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act against this boy. We could register a case under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act only when the video went viral.”
The girl’s father said on the day the alleged sexual assault occurred, he went to the temple in the morning to feed the cows. “I found my daughter with a Dalit boy there. We have a medical report that suggests she was sexually assaulted. I reported the incident to the police,” he told The Wire.
The police said a video of the two minors together in the temple exists. “We haven’t seen the video yet, but during the investigation, we were made aware that it exists. It is said to be filmed from a distance, so it is difficult to say what exactly the two were doing,” said Prakash.
The boy and the girl are believed to be in a relationship, but their families object to it. As a matter of fact, the minor girl’s statement to the police compelled them to alter the sections invoked under the POCSO Act. Initially, the case was registered under section 3/4 (penetrative sexual assault), but was later changed to 7/8 (sexual assault).
According to Buddha Khattani, a resident of the village, the thrashing was planned by Jeevan Ram, who is accused in the assault.
“Jeevan Ram and Babu Dholi, the boy’s maternal uncle, had a serious altercation in the village a few months ago,” Khattani told The Wire. “Ram’s son Mukesh knew the boy and the girl were in a relationship, and planned to film their private moments. After he did so, Ram was able to get the support of the village to thrash the boy.”
An FIR has been registered against eight men – Jeevan Ram, Mukesh, Ashok, Pappu Ram, Babu Lal, Laxman Ram, Buddha Ram and Anna Ram – for the assault on the minor Dalit boy under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Four of these men – Mukesh, Ashok, Babu Lal and Pappu Ram – have been arrested. The minor boy has been sent to a juvenile centre.