Karnataka caste shocker: Water tank ‘purified’ with cow urine after Dalit woman drinks from it; FIR filed

Four days later, no arrest has been made in the case. The district administration has announced ₹1 lakh compensation for the Dalit woman.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Nov 21, 2022 | 8:42 PMUpdatedNov 21, 2022 | 8:46 PM

People belonging to an upper caste sanitised a water tank after a Dalit woman drank water in the Heggotara village in the Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka on Friday. (Creative Commons)

It seems for a village in Karnataka’s Chamarajanagar, cow urine in a water tank is better than a Dalit woman drinking water from it.

A First Investigation Report (FIR) has been filed against an upper-caste man for reportedly abusing and castigating a Dalit woman for drinking water from the tank located in a Lingayat-dominated area in the Heggotara village in the Chamarajanagar district.

The incident reportedly occurred when Shivamma (Mahadevamma), a resident of Sargur village near the HD Kote taluka of the Mysuru district, had come to attend the wedding of one of her relatives on Friday, 18 November. She belongs to a Schedule Caste (SC).

“She was returning to the bus stand after attending the wedding when, to quench her thirst, she drank water from a tank located near Krishnaraya Temple in Lingayat beedi (area). While she was drinking water, a person from an upper caste took her to task for quenching her thirst from the tank located on the Lingayat street,” claimed a villager who wished to be unnamed.

As soon as the woman left the village, a section of people belonging to an upper caste — mainly from the Lingayat community — drained all the water from the tank.

“The people of the locality reportedly sanitised it with gomutra (cow urine) in order to ‘purify’ the tank,” claimed a villager.

The fallout

The incident came to light after one of the villagers posted a video of villagers cleaning the tank on social media.

Based on the reports of local media, the local revenue inspector and village accountant rushed to the village.

Around 20 youths belonging to the SC community gave a written complaint to the authorities concerned on the same day.

On the directions of IE Basavaraju, the tahsildar of Chamarajanagar, the revenue inspector, and the village accountant submitted a detailed report about the incident to the district administration.

The district administration also directed the officials of the Department of Social Welfare to visit the village and submit another report on the incident.

“We have contacted the victim in this incident. She hails from the neighbouring district. A person from the scheduled caste of the same village has filed a complaint against the upper caste for alleged atrocity against a Dalit woman at Chamarajanagar Rural Police Station,” stated Mallikarjun, district social welfare officer.

The case has been registered under provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The police have launched a probe into the incident.

The full version

In the FIR, the complainant accused Mahadevappa, who belongs to an upper caste, of the atrocity against a Dalit woman.

“Shivamma was in the village to attend her relatives’ children’s wedding. When she was heading to the bus stand, she drank water from a tank located near a temple. Mahadevappa, who belonged to the upper caste, inquired about the caste of the victim,” alleged Giriappa, a local SC leader.

“As soon as she replied that she belonged to the SC community, the accused objected to her drinking from the tank reserved for the ‘Veerashaiva’ community. He also abused and castigated her. He accused her of ‘polluting’ the drinking water tank,” Giriappa alleged in his complaint to the police.

Even after four days, no arrests have been made in the case.

“The accused absconded after he came to know that he had been named in the case. We are investigating all the angles to ensure that justice is served. A meeting between the chiefs of both communities has been held in the village. We are ensuring that harmony between the two communities is not disturbed. We will arrest the accused at the earliest,” said KS Sundara Raj, Additional Superintendent of Police, Chamarajanagar.

Responding to the incident, District Minister V Somanna said, “I have sought a report from the district administration on the alleged atrocity reported against a woman. Based on the report, I will initiate action.”

He added: “It is disheartening to witness such incidents. These kinds of incidents should not happen. I have also directed the officials of the department of social welfare to probe the incident. I will ensure that justice is served to the victim.”

Compensation announced

A group of youths, mostly belonging to SC community, led by government officers of various departments, in the presence of local police, drank the water from all the water tanks, including the one on the Lingayat street in an act of protest.

With this, an effort was made by the authorities to denounce untouchability in the village.

Thereafter, the same group put up boards on all the water tanks that they were open to access for all the communities in the village on Sunday.

The district administration has approved ₹1 lakh compensation to the victim.

“A cheque of ₹25,000 has been handed over to Shivamma. The remaining amount will be handed over in two instalments. She is being compensated under various welfare programmes of the state government,” said Mallikarjun, a social welfare officer.