Four upper-caste people were booked for alleged harassment and assault on an 18-year-old Dalit in the Pudukkotai district of Tamil Nadu. The case was registered on the youth’s complaint at the Meemisal police station in Pudukkotai district.
According to the police, the Dalit youth, who hails from Gunpathiranpatti, had gone fishing in a pond with a couple of family members on Sunday. On their way, their bike suffered a flat tyre. After running repairs, they stopped at a local eatery for a meal. As they were having their meal, a person named Pradeep and his brother, from Thanikondan village, walked up to them and asked which village they were from. They also asked the complainant to name his father.
As the complainant obliged with the information they sought, Pradeep allegedly used a derogatory word for his caste and demanded to know how they dared to ride a bike in front of them (the implication being that people from lower castes can’t ride bikes like they can).
As the complainant objected to being insulted for riding a bike, Pradeep allegedly punched him in the face. Not stretching the matter any further, the Dalit youth drove off towards the Avudaiyar Kovil government hospital where he got himself treated for the injury.
On the way back from the hospital, the complainant was allegedly stopped and abducted by Moorthy, another accused from Amaradakki village, who dragged him into a vehicle and drove off. Pradeep, his brother and a third person were also in the car, police said.
The youth was taken to an isolated place where the accused allegedly took turns to beat him. Police said the attackers were in a drunken state and when the victim asked for some water, they forced alcohol down his throat and also urinated on him.
The complainant managed to wrench free from his attackers after a while and escape, the police said, adding that he got himself admitted at Aranthangi Government Hospital. He then lodged a complaint with Meemisal police.
The police booked four people – Pradeep, his brother, Moorthy, and another unidentified person under sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 365 (abduction) 294 (b) obscene act to insult, 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (II) (criminal intimidation) of the IPC, as well as the SC/ST (prevention of atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015.
While a further investigation is on in the case, a police officer from Avadaiyarkovil town claimed that a section of people from the victim’s community attacked the accused in retaliation. He said that while an FIR has been filed on the complaint of the Dalit youth, the matter is being probed from all angles as there are rumours that the entire incident could be a set-up to take the focus of the law enforcers away from the illegal sand mining in the area.
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