Twelve people were arrested in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district after two Dalit youths were allegedly tortured to death on Thursday night, the police said Saturday, a day after the youths’ bodies were discovered in a pond. While the duo was accused of theft, the police said they are trying to find out if there was any other reason that led the accused to torture the two to death.
The deceased were identified as Girish Mudalagiriappa (30) and Girish (32), both residents of Peddanahalli village in Tumakuru district, 120 km away from Bengaluru.
The police have formed teams, headed by a DSP-rank officer, to arrest the accused. Speaking to The Indian Express, Tumakuru SP Rahul Kumar Shahapurwad said, “Among the arrested, five belong to the Lingayat community, four are from the Thigala community and three from a Scheduled Caste (SC) community. The victims were involved in theft cases, including motors from the farm of the accused,” he said.
“We cannot come to any conclusion as to whether they were killed because they were Dalits. The probe is still underway, we will be able to tell only after interrogation and investigation,” he added.
Dalit organisations in Tumakuru district have demanded strict action against the accused. Gubbi police have registered a case and are probing.
The police said that on Thursday night, one of the accused, identified as Nandish, reached the duo’s house and convinced them to accompany him to a place.
He then allegedly took them to a secluded place where his other friends were waiting and as the victims reached, they started beating them up. According to the police, the accused allegedly put fire to dry leaves near their feet and tortured them, resulting in Mudalagiriappa’s instant death.
The police added that when Girish tried to escape, they bludgeoned him to death and threw both the bodies into a pond.
After the discovery of the bodies, the police rushed them to a hospital for a post-mortem. The police said, “We are yet to ascertain the reason behind the attack as both the victims had cases of theft registered against them and we are ascertaining whether that was the reason behind their death.”
Following the incident, former chief minister Siddaramaiah tweeted, “My heart wrenches to see the death of 2 Dalits in Tumkur. The atrocities on the marginalized sections continues under @BJP4Karnataka govt. I urge @CMofKarnataka @BSBommai to arrest the culprits at the earliest.”
“My deepest condolences to the family members of the deceased. The death of Dalits in Tumkur reflects the apathy of BJP towards Dalits, and failure to maintain Law & Order under @BJP4Karnataka govt. Home Minister @JnanendraAraga is unfit to continue & should resign immediately. Govt should immediately announce compensation to the victims,” he added.
Tumakuru is the home district of law and parliamentary affairs minister J C Madhuswamy, while Araga Jnanendra is the minister in charge of the district.