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16 men hailing from Sikandarpur Aima village in Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh were arrested by the State Police on June 12 on charges of allegedly attacking a group of Dalit men.
12 Dalit men sustained minor injuries in an altercation that took place on June 10 after the group of Dalits accused the 16 men of allegedly harassing some girls. A 22-year-old man identified as Sudhir suffered an injury caused by a sharp-edged weapon, while 11 others were mildly injured with sticks and stones.
Azamgarh SSP, Triveni Singh in a report to The Indian Express claimed that the accused used to sit at a tube well in the village and pass lewd remarks about Dalit girls passing through the area on their way to school.
On Wednesday, when the accused allegedly passed similar remarks, people from the Dalit community objected. A few minutes later, the accused reportedly assembled and attacked the Dalit locality assaulting the locals and pelting stones at the women.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took cognizance of the incident and ordered the police to invoke the National Security Act against the accused. Meanwhile, SSP stated that Maharajganj Station House Officer Arvind Pandey, under whose jurisdiction the attack took place, has been suspended on charges of negligence.
The police have also announced a reward of Rs 25,000 for information leading to the capture of three other accused who are currently absconding.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati lauded the Adityanath led UP government for initiating action against the accused and said it is "better late than never". "This is good," she tweeted. "But it would be better if similar action was initiated in cases pertaining to sisters and daughters in the future as well. The molestation of any Dalit girl or those from any other religion and caste, be it from Azamgarh, Kanpur or any other district, must be condemned."
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