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In a shocking incident, a 24-year-old Dalit man was lynched by a mob after he allegedly stopped to defecate in an open field near Villupuram, a town in south of Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
The incident took place on Wednesday, February 12, when R Sakthivel who works at a petrol bunk, while on his way to work stopped at an open field to defecate. A woman noticed him and called others on the pretence that he was misbehaving with her.
On noticing that an angry mob was approaching, Sakthivel tried to flee but was caught and roughed up by the rowdy crowd with his hand and legs tied up.
R Theivanai, the elder sister of the victim, said Sakthivel was attacked "only because he was a Dalit", reported The Indian Express.
Theivanai told the publication that Sakthivel was on night duty at the petrol pump and he reached home on Wednesday morning. He had received a call from his colleagues, asking him to come with his documents for certain official verification. On the way, he ran out of fuel and had dialled to keep her informed. He had also communicated over the call that he was feeling unwell and had 'said he would sit by the roadside to defecate.'
In the meanwhile, she had received another call from a man who said Sakthivel was tied up and was in his custody, asking them to reach Boothur Hills.
With her six-month-old baby, Theivanai rushed to the place.
"When we reached, Sakthivel was bleeding profusely from his mouth and nose and some 15-20 people had gathered around him. When I reached, they beat him some more. I tried to stop them and pleaded for help, but they kicked me and my child fell to the ground. Sakthivel could hardly talk but he signalled to me to leave with the child," she said.
Police reached the location only two hours after the violence began and did not take the victim to the hospital. Instead, they asked Sakthivel and Theivanai to go home and appear for inquiry the next day.
Theivanai along with the relative managed to get him out of the tussle, however, on reaching home they realised that Sakthivel had passed away.
Theivanai, later, lodged a complaint at the Periyathachur Police Station following which seven people including three women were arrested.
A case has been registered under section 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapons), 294 (B) (Obscene action and songs) and 302 (punishment for murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 3 (2) (v) of SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
The Indian Express reported a senior officer who is probing the case stating that the village where R Sakthivel was attacked was dominated by Vanniyars, a socially powerful OBC community in northern Tamil Nadu whose members are known to share an open animosity towards Dalits.
Villupuram Superintendent of Police D Jayakumar, however, told the media that only a detailed probe can reveal if there was a caste angle to the murder.
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