Two Dalit brothers were beaten by a group of villagers near Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district on Tuesday afternoon while they were skinning a dead cow.
Police identified the two victims as Mokati Ilaiah and Mokati Venkatesh, and said that they were being “treated for simple injuries” and “recuperating in the general ward” of the local government hospital.
They added that seven persons from Uppalapuram village in Amalapuram have been arrested for allegedly leading the attack, and booked under the SC/ST Atrocities Act.
The incident comes almost a month after five Dalits from a family were publicly flogged by gau rakshaks in Gujarat’s Una for skinning cattle.
Local police, however, attributed the attack in Uppalapuram to a misunderstanding after villagers thought the Dalits had killed the cow, which was one of the three reported missing from the village on Monday.
The cows had been caught and tied up near the local market by another villager after they destroyed his crops to “teach their owner a lesson”, said police.
Said Amalapuram DySP K Ankaiah: “On Tuesday morning, one of the three cows died due to electrocution. After police gave a no-objection certificate, the owner of the cow called an autorickshaw driver to ferry the carcass back to the village for burial. The two Dalit youths were hired to dispose of the carcass. They brought the carcass to the ground near the village where they usually bury cows and were skinning it when some villagers saw them. They assumed that the youths had killed the cow and called other villagers over. Soon, they started beating up the brothers. But someone called police and we were able to react quickly and rescue the youths.”
The brothers are undergoing treatment at a hospital.
Another police officer said that the autorickshaw driver and the two youths tried to explain to the crowd that the cow had died in the morning and that they were skinning the carcass after the owner handed it over. “But the villagers accused the youths of killing the cow. The owner of the dead cow was not in the village at the time as he was taking his two other cows from the market back to the village,’’ he said.