At least nine members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV) and other right-wing groups are absconding for two days now after thrashing a Dalit man in the Devanoor village in the Yalal Mandal of the Vikarabad district of Telangana on Tuesday, 31 January.
The victim, identified as 26-year-old Metli Naresh, is an electrician who belongs to the Madiga community, a Scheduled Caste.
In the video circulating on social media, more than a dozen men can be seen attacking him and his brother Prem Kumar alias Nani with sticks, chairs and other objects.
#Telangana: For 2 days now, at least 9 '@HYVNational' accused are absconding after allegedly thrashing a 26 YO #Dalit man in Devanoor, #Vikarabad. Man injured grievously & can't stand up. Dalit leaders protested at MRO.@TheSouthfirst @spvikarabad @coll_vkb @mahmoodalitrs
TW 🚨 pic.twitter.com/nQCvM9Ec3k
— Ajay Tomar (@ajaytomarasks) February 2, 2023
While the senior police officials from Vikarabad are tight-lipped on the incident, an official from the Yalal Police Station told South First that the accused locked their houses and fled.
“He was beaten mercilessly with stones and sharp weapons. He was bleeding profusely. They also attacked his private parts. He has injuries on his back and is unable to stand,” Buram Abhinav, State General-Secretary of the rights organisation Kula Nirmulana Porata Samithi (KNPS) told South First.
Meanwhile, Naresh is currently undergoing treatment at the Government Hospital in a nearby town Tandur and is said to be out of danger.
Attacked for laying stone for statue, playing songs
As per Abhinav, the quarrel between two sets of youths in the village began on 27 January.
“Local Dalit youths brought an Ambedkar statue to the village. Its foundation stone was supposed to be laid the next day. The land where it was to be laid belonged to the Dalits. The local MLA (Tandur MLA Pilot Rohith Reddy) had sponsored the statue and everyone was happy,” Abhinav recollected.
He added that seeing this, HYV member Vadla Mohan Charry raised questions about the stone-laying.
“Several BC community youths also told the Dalit youths to not lay the statue, which the latter opposed. Mohan subsequently apologised, and the foundation stone was laid the next day. Several political leaders also attended the event,” he said.
However, things escalated when the two groups faced each other at the village’s bus stop in Vikarabad. The FIR says that the incident happened around 6.30 pm.
“After the ceremony, the Dalit youths were sitting around in the evening and playing Ambedkar songs. Reacting to this, BC youths sitting at Mohan’s shop started passing vulgar comments,” said Abhinav.
After a face-off, the BC youths are said to have called more friends to the spot, some of whom were Shiva devotees.
As both groups argued, Naresh told one of the devotees to not use caste-based slurs as he was under a deeksha (initiation).
“At this, the angry Shiva devotee went to the police station and lodged a complaint against Naresh alleging defiling. While Naresh was summoned by the cops, a large crowd of devotees led by a local rowdy Narender Bodka gathered around the police station and thrashed Naresh,” Abhinav explained, adding that Sub-Inspector Aravind A rescued him from the mob.
The local Dalit leaders and several others subsequently protested in front of the Mandal Revenue Office (MRO). The agitation is still underway.
“They are demanding the arrest of the accused at the earliest. The police are saying they are not able to trace the accused but it is possible they are sheltering them as some of them are economically strong and come from dominant groups,” Abhinav noted.
About the main accused Narender, he alleged, “He is financially not well off but is a hardcore RSS member. He has a history of creating disturbances on a regular basis. During Ramadan, he troubles Muslims as well.”
Meanwhile, the Yalal police have named nine prime accused in the FIR obtained by South First.
The cops have registered a case under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, IPC 324 (cause hurt using weapons) and 34 (criminal act done by several persons) in connection with the incident.