Telangana inter-caste clash: Janwada village church ransacked, 10 injured; Cyberabad Commissioner imposes Section 144

The victims, belonging to the Madiga caste, accused 27 individuals of unleashing physical assault and caste-based abuse.

ByDeepika Pasham

Published Feb 15, 2024 | 7:00 AMUpdatedFeb 15, 2024 | 7:00 AM

BSP state president RS Praveen Kumar with a child victim who was bleeding after the assault. (Supplied)

In the quaint village of Janwada, nestled within the Shankarpalli mandal in the Ranga Reddy district, inter-caste conflicts and fervent protests have sent shockwaves through the community.

The tumultuous events unfolded from the eve of Tuesday, 13 February, until the afternoon of Wednesday, 14 February, prompting Cyberabad Commissioner of Police Avinash Mohanty to assert his authority by imposing Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

This restrictive measure, enforced within the jurisdiction of the Mokila Police Station, will be in effect from the stroke of midnight on 14 February until 11 pm on 21 February.

The official order, issued by Commissioner Mohanty, articulated, “It has come to the notice of the undersigned that on 13 February, there were clashes between two communities in Janwada village of Mokila Police Station limits, wherein there was rioting, injury to persons, and damage of property. Several cases were registered in this regard at Mokila Police Station, Cyberabad.”

The order added, “Keeping the above in view and to prevent danger to human life and safety, I, Avinash Mohanty, Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad in the exercise of powers vested in me under Section 144 CrPC, prohibit any gathering of five (05) or more persons in the areas specified therein. (I) prohibit people who do not ordinarily reside in the area or do not ordinarily have work in the area from entering the limits of the areas specified herein.”

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The incident

South First accessed a letter from the Scheduled Castes Rights Protection Society Telangana to the Mokila Police, laying bare a harrowing incident that occurred on 13 February.

The victims, belonging to the Madiga caste in the SC category, accused 27 individuals — belonging to the BC community — of unleashing physical assault and caste-based abuse in Janwada. Iron rods, rocks, and anything within reach were wielded indiscriminately, leaving 10 individuals grievously injured and necessitating hospitalisation.

The catalyst for this brutal attack stemmed from tensions surrounding the construction of a cement concrete road in Janwada village. A dispute emerged as the road, overseen by the village Sarpanch, was slated to traverse near the boundary wall of a local Methodist church.

Prior to construction, concerns voiced by church representatives about potential damage were met with threats from the Sarpanch and his associates. The situation escalated that evening, culminating in a forcible entry into the church premises, where there was damage to property, construction materials were confiscated, and physical assaults ensued.

Commissioner Mohanty, shedding light on the aftermath, stated to South First, “Among the assailants, 11 were arrested and will be produced in front of the court. They have been booked under Section 3 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, as well as Sections 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), and 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapon or means) of the Indian Penal Code.”

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Protest against no arrests

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) state president Praveen Kumar, expressing solidarity with the victims during his visit to the village on 14 February, faced arrest under the imposed Section 144. In response, irate villagers ascended an electricity tower in protest.

Kumar, highlighting the lack of arrests despite severe injuries to members of the Madigas caste, questioned the efficacy of public governance in safeguarding vulnerable communities. The protestors clamored for the immediate arrest of the assailants, village heads, and all culpable representatives.

An impassioned demonstration, featuring women, villagers, and BSP leaders, unfolded on the roads in the wake of the incident.

A witness, divulging the details, informed South First that children were among the 10 hospitalised individuals as they were bleeding, though reassured by doctors that their lives were no longer in jeopardy.