In a shocking incident, two 18-year-old Dalit teenagers were tied to a tree and beaten up with sticks by four men from an upper-caste community for over 12 hours on suspicion of stealing hens.
Visuals of the horrific incident were captured by onlookers and shared on social media, The News Minute reported.
The incident occurred on Tuesday, January 19 in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.
The two men were identified as Venkateswara Rao and Santhosh who are presently undergoing treatment in Chintalapudi government hospital. The duo has suffered injuries to their legs, shoulders and back.
The victims belong to the Mala community, categorized as Scheduled Caste in the state, while the accused hail from the Kapu community.
Narrating the incident, Venkateswara Rao told the media, "On Monday, when we were going to a nearby village, we stopped at a shop in Gonthupadu village. While we were having a discussion about whether we should fill fuel from the bottles available at the shop, Santosh had already grabbed the bottle. When the shop owner noticed this, she accused us of stealing petrol and made a scene asking if we were the ones stealing hens in their village."
The shop owner then informed the villagers, and four of them forcibly detained and questioned them about their alleged attempt to steal petrol. They later accused them of stealing hens.
"While initially the two of them were let off after calling their parents, another teenager, identified as Praveen was held back," Venkateswara said.
"The next day (Tuesday) when we went, they said that Praveen revealed the truth and attacked us again. After tying us up, they thrashed us and asked us to confess in front of the police that we stole hens. If we did not, they threatened to kill us. Out of fear, we told police that we stole the hens," he said.
"We have no role in the crime," he added.
According to the police, the victims were assaulted from Monday night to Tuesday night.
Dharmajigudem Sub Inspector U Lakshmi Narayana said that a case has not been filed as the victims are yet to give their statement. "We will file a case under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Prevention of Atrocities Act as soon we receive a complaint," he said.