Rajasthan: Dalit Man Killed After Protesting Removal of Ambedkar Poster

Vinod Bamnia, a member of the Bhim Army, was attacked allegedly by a group of OBC men and succumbed to his injuries two days later.

New Delhi: A 21-year-old Dalit man was brutally beaten and succumbed to his injuries in Rajasthan’s Kikraliya village after a row over a poster of Dr B.R. Ambedkar posted outside his house. Vinod Bamnia was attacked allegedly by a group of men from an OBC community on June 5 and passed away in a hospital on June 7, the Indian Express reported.

Bamnia was a member of the Bhim Army. The group staged a protest against alleged police inaction a day after the attack.

According to the police, Bamnia’s family has named several people in the FIR filed after the attack and his death. Two of those named – Anil Sihag and Rakesh Sihag – are among the four people who have been arrested so far.

The FIR, according to the Indian Express, states that the group shouted casteist slurs while attacking Bamnia. “Aaj tumhe tumhara Ambedkarvad yaad dilvayenge (We will make you remember your Ambedkarite ideology today),” they reportedly said.

Initially, the FIR was registered under IPC Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly) and sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. After Bamnia’s death, the charge of attempt to murder was changed to murder (Section 302).

Bamnia and his family have approached the police twice before about threats and attacks. In April, Bamnia said he was receiving threat calls after he objected to copies of the Hanuman Chalisa being distributed at a school. In another complaint, he said several village residents allegedly attacked him and his family for objecting to a road block.

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Mukesh – Bamnia’s cousin and an eyewitness to the attack – has said that the violence that led to Bamnia’s death “revenge” for an incident to do with the Ambedkar poster.

“Recently, some men including Anil Sihag and Rakesh Sihag, who also live in our village, had torn the banners of Babasaheb Ambedkar, which were put up outside our home since Ambedkar Jayanti on April 14. After we identified them, we complained to their families. The matter was sorted with the mediation of the panchayat, and their family members apologised on their behalf,” Indian Express quoted Mukesh as saying.

“But the actual culprits wanted to take revenge. On June 5, Vinod and I were on our way to our fields in the village when we were attacked by Rakesh, Anil and a few others, who were waiting for us with sticks. I managed to escape with minor injuries. But they beat up Vinod with hockey sticks about 20-30 times. He was taken to Rawatsar and referred to hospitals in Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar where he subsequently succumbed to his injuries,” he continued.

Hanumangarh SP Preeti Jain denied allegations that the police had not acted swiftly. “Posters of B R Ambedkar were put at the house of Vinod. On May 24, some men from the village tore them. Following this, their family members apologised on the directions of the panchayat. Nobody contacted the police. But the accused who tore the posters didn’t forget the incident and carried out the assault on June 5, which led to his death,” she said about the attack, according to the Indian Express.