New Delhi: Two Dalit men were allegedly abused with casteist slurs and beaten up with rods and sticks by six ‘upper’ caste men in Madhya Pradesh’s Sehore district, after the Dalit men opposed the dumping of waste in front of their house, news reports said.
According to the Indian Express, Harinath Singh and his son Sobhalsingh Solanki have been admitted to a district hospital with head injuries. Sobhalsingh told Express that his father has suffered severe injuries, and has also fractured his leg.
A first information report (FIR) has been registered against the six people at the Jawar police station under sections 294 (using obscene acts and songs), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, along with Section, 3(1), 3(2) of the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The incident took place on June 12, when the accused, identified as Narayan Singh Sendhav, Rajendra Singh and Vijendra Singh, came to Harinath Singh’s house. They wanted to know why bricks were kept in front of their house, at a place where ‘upper’ caste men usually dump cow dung.
During the argument, one of the accused called Sobhandsingh “bagatto” – which is a slur used for a sub-caste of the Dalit community that makes brooms in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, the report said.
Sobhalsingh told the daily when he and his father asked the ‘upper’ caste men to stop abusing them, Narayan Singh picked up some rods lying nearby and hit Harinath, while Sobhalsingh was attacked by Rajendra Singh. The other three accused, Bhairusingh Sendhav, Lokendra Sendhav and Manohar Sendhav, attacked more members of their family with rods when two of them tried to help the father and son.
Sobhansingh’s brother Vijaysingh Solanki told Express that the house was recently allocated to them by the government. “When we left for the hospital, they threw away our vessels and disconnected our power supply,” Vijaysingh told the newspaper.
The accused threatened to kill the Dalit family if they failed to remove the bricks, Sobhandsingh said in his police complaint, as reported by Indian Express. The newspaper quoted Vijaysingh as saying that they also allegedly tried to burn their house.
Sobhalsingh told NewsClick over phone that the ‘upper’ caste men set their house on fire, and the women were roughed up by the attackers. However, the police didn’t mention these incidents in the FIR under pressure of the ‘upper’ caste group, he alleged.
“When we went to register the FIR at the SC/ST police station after the incident, the town inspector abused and chased us away. Later we went to Jawar police station, which was the nearest one, and registered the FIR only after members of Dalit community pressured them,” Sobhalsingh told the news portal.
Sunil Astay of the Bhim Army in Sehore told Indian Express that police had not mentioned that their house was burnt down to help water down the case.
Astay further told NewsClick that the Dalit men were not treated at the government hospital for hours, nor did the police register the FIR until the Bhim Army approached the higher officials.
Sobhansingh’s nephew Deepak told Indian Express that the family had earlier also asked the Sendhavs – who are considered to be powerful in the village – to stop dumping garbage in front of their house. But they abused the Dalits and made no effort to stop.
Madan Evenes, town inspector of Jawar police station, told the daily that the tussle broke out over a compost pit near Sobhansingh’s house on government land left on the other side of the road. “People would throw cow dung into it and that became a bone of contention between the two. There are complaints made by both sides, and the case is being investigated.”