After travelling about 2 km on the unpaved road, we saw some more police officers. One of them told us to move ahead on a gravel road. After walking about one and a half km, hundreds of vehicles and people were seen.
In Sonnagar village of Bhojas Gram Panchayat, situated amidst the dunes, at least five hundred vehicles were parked in a cumin field of the two Dalit cousins who were brutally beaten up and petrol soaked screwdriver inserted in the private parts of one of them.
The tent has been set up for people who were coming to the house of victims. Tea was boiling on the gas stove outside the house, which was burning for the last two days. For the family which earns its livelihood through farming and daily wage labour, the cost of tea was also a burden. But thanks to their distant relatives who came forward and borne the cost.
As we entered the house of two huts and two cement rooms built a year ago, victims Visaram (24) and Pannaram (18) were seen sitting.
The women of the family are crying intermittently towards the huts. One of them is Visaram's seven-month-old girl. Sohni, her mother is distressed and grieving in pain and is unable to feed her after seeing the victimisation of her husband.
With the crowd of journalists, lawyers surrounding the victims, Visaram narrated the horrifying tale. "On February 16, at around 2.30 pm, I and Pannaram had gone to Karnu village to get my Hero Deluxe Bike serviced. I had purchased the bike eight months ago. There are two installments left of my bike which the agency's owner asked for. I said, after harvesting, I will pay the entire amount with interest. After this, they abused me with casteist words and accused us of stealing ₹50,000."
Visaram further stated that the miscreants didn't stop after beating them near the cash counter. "Hanuman Singh took me behind the service centre. Bheem Singh was standing on both my legs and made me lie down. Aidan Singh and Sawai Singh held my hands and Lichman Singh stood on my back. After this, Hanuman Singh tied a cloth on a screwdriver and drenched it with petrol and inserted it in my private parts."
The accused then threatened the two brothers, not to tell anyone about the incident. They later called Visaram's elder brothers, who later came and took them home.
On the question of not giving immediate information to the police, Visaram said, "I was very scared. If the video had not gone viral on February 19, I would have never filed a complaint."
Meanwhile, Revenue Minister Harish Chaudhary and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister of Rajasthan reached the house to meet the victims. They talked to the victims in a closed room for about two hours.
Visaram's father, Jagdeesh told The Logical Indian that the accused had also taken money from him. "The accused have also charged me a fine of ₹5100 for alleged theft by my children. We paid the fine by borrowing money from our neighbours."
An FIR has been filed on behalf of the accused of stealing Visasram and Pannaram. In the complaint filed by Hanuman Singh, the main accused in the case, the two cousins are accused of stealing ₹50,000. He also wrote that he had caught the two red-handed.
Nagaur Superintendent of Police Vikas Pathak told The Logical Indian that 'the police have seen the CCTV footage of the service centre. However, this amount has not been recovered yet.
On the delay in registering the FIR and the allegations of racism on the SHO, SP Pathak said, "On February 18, our IT team first saw the video and gave us information. On February 19, shortly after the complaint was filed, five accused were arrested. Since the SHO and the accused belong to the same caste, anyone can make any allegation, but the police have not committed any offence."
Medical Report Says Victim Seriously Injured
Visaram's medical report has revealed the brutality of the incident. "He has got bruises on the backside of thorax, on the upper part of the buttock, and the backside of his right thigh," said Dr Mahavir Goyal, who conducted the medical examination, adding that there are many blue marks due to beating on the body of the victim. Medical took place at Pt JLN State Hospital, Nagaur. The report also revealed that the injuries were three to four days old.
The Case So Far?
The Police registered an FIR on 19 February. Shortly thereafter five accused were arrested. A total of nine accused have been arrested in the case so far. One accused is still absconding. The court has sent all the arrested accused to 14-day judicial custody.
On February 21, the victims have been given ₹50,000 rupees as compensation. National SC-ST Commission Deputy Chairman L Murugan also met the victims reaching Sonnagar on 23 February. On the victims' request, the government has offered jobs to both of them on a contract basis.
The victims had also asked the removal SHO of Pachauri Police station Rajpal Singh, who has now been shifted to other police station. Of the nine accused arrested, seven are Rajputs, an upper-caste community in Rajasthan.
Figures Expose Reality Of Rajasthan
The figures of Dalit atrocity in the state are frightening. According to the NCRB data, with 10.8 per cent of the total crimes against Dalits in the country, Rajasthan ranks fifth in terms of Dalit oppression.
Dalit atrocities in Rajasthan increased by 60.31 per cent between 2017 and 2019, according to the state police department. In 2017, 4238 cases of atrocities on Scheduled Castes were registered.
The figures rose to 4607 cases in 2018, and 6794 cases in 2019. This year at least 464 cases have been registered till January this year. These include murder, serious injury, rape and cases registered under the SC/ST Act.
According to the Rajasthan police data, Nagaur district ranked fifth in the state for most cases of Dalit atrocity in 2019.
Social activist and advocate Tarachand Verma, working for Dalit rights in Rajasthan on increasing incidents of atrocities, said, "Social Justice Committees are being formed under Panchayati Raj Act-1995 to prevent crimes against Dalits. There is a provision, these committees have not yet been formed in the state."
Gehlot Government Wakes Up After Four Days
Despite being a serious matter, it took Rahul Gandhi's tweet on February 20 for Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to express condolences and show promptness at the administrative level.
Soon after that Deputy Chief Minister of the state, Sachin Pilot, immediately formed a committee in Nagaur case. Which included Revenue Minister Harish Chaudhary, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Bhanwarlal Meghwal, former MP Jyoti Mirdha. In the report, the committee said that initially the police did not take timely action and tried to hush up the matter. According to The Print report, the committee had also said that the police sided with the accused and tried to bail them out.
Union ministers Arjunram Meghwal and former minister and MLA Madan Dilawar were also among those who met the victims. Apart from this, local MLA Narayan Beniwal from Khinwsar of Rashtriya Loktantrik party also reached Sonnagar.
Amid the claims of government relief to the victims, there are numerous Dalit boys are being assaulted similarly across the state. A Dalit boy was assaulted in the western district of Barmer. Like Nagaur, an iron rod has been inserted in the private part of this young man. That's why the scandal in Nagaur is neither the first nor the last incident of Dalit atrocities in Rajasthan.