In another incident of caste discrimination, a 21-year-old Dalit man was assaulted and beaten to death in Rajasthan by the Other Backward Class (OBC) Community members after a scuffle over B R Ambedkar's poster.
The deceased, Vinod Bamnia, is a resident of Kikraliya village of Hanumangarh district in Rajasthan and was a member of the Dalit Rights organisation, Bhim Army, The Indian Express reported.
According to the report, the June 5 assault is believed to have been triggered by the incident on May 24, when a few men allegedly tore banners of Babasaheb Ambedkar pasted outside Bamnia's house. The family had identified the attackers and approached the panchayat. The matter was sorted between the two, and the family members of the attackers apologised on their behalf.
Later, on June 5, the same men attacked Bamnia and his cousin Mukesh on their way to their fields. Though Mukesh managed to escape with a few injuries, Bamnia was brutally beaten up with hockey sticks for nearly half an hour.
The culprits fled the scene. The 21-year-old was rushed to Rawatsar hospital, from where he was referred to Sriganganagar hospital. Two days later, on June 7, he succumbed to his injuries.
Speaking to the media, Mukesh termed the attack 'as an act of revenge'.
The family named several people in the FIR, of whom two have been identified as Anil Sihag and Rakesh Sihag.
According to the complaint, the accused allegedly hurled casteist slurs while assaulting him, saying, "Aaj tumhe tumhara Ambedkarvad yaad dilvayenge (We will make you remember your Ambedkarite ideology today."
Approached Police Earlier
Vinod Bamnia had registered a complaint twice against the accused on different issues earlier this year. In April, Bamnia had complained of receiving threat calls after he opposed distributing the copies of Hanuman Chalisa at a school. In another case, he named several village residents for allegedly attacking him and his family for objecting to a roadblock, the media reported.
Bhim Army Staged Protest
Following Bamnia death, the Bhim Army staged a protest against the police for failing to initiate an action against the culprits proactively and demanded a probe into the case, along with favourable compensation for the family. Had they taken stringent action over two complaints filed by Bamnia earlier, it could have prevented his death, the organisation members said.
However, the department denied the allegations, stating that both parties resolved the May 24 issue with the panchayat members. The police were not informed about it.
"The other two complaints, one FIR pertaining to the assault on the fields was because of a land dispute in which both sides sustained injuries and lodged cross FIRs. The threat calls complaint was found to be that of abuse, which is a non-cognisable offence," Superintendent of Police Jain informed the media.
Remembering Bamnia's contribution towards the organisation, Army state president Satyavan Indasar said he proactively raised caste discrimination issues prevailing in the village, as well as across the state.
The accused have been charged under sections 302(murder), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code, and various sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.