A week after a 12-year-old Dalit boy died in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh district after being allegedly assaulted by five boys, reportedly over bursting a balloon in a temple on Janmashtami, one of accused has been sent to a juvenile home and four others are on the run with their families. However, police said the families had communicated to them that they want to surrender in court.
The incident took place during Janmashtami celebrations at Nadroe village on September 3. Akash Jatav was out with his friends to look at tableaux in the temples. “Four of us went to Chamunda temple. It was decorated with balloons. Akash was playing with them and one burst. Because of this, a group of boys started chasing us. Three of us fled, but they caught Akash and beat him up in the fields outside the pradhan’s house,” said Suraj (9).
According to Akash’s mother Savitri Devi (35), Suraj ran to her and informed her about the altercation.
“I went and chased the boys away. My son was injured in the chest and head, but it didn’t look serious. I took him to the home of one of the boys to confront his father about the assault. But he chased us away with casteist slurs. Then I went to the pradhan, but he said he was busy with the festivities and would deal with the issue the next day,” she said.
According to Savitri, Akash slept after some time, but woke up at around 3 am with severe pain in his stomach.
“I took him to the village doctor who administered him two injections, but those brought no relief. Our neighbour dropped us to the nearest private hospital on his motorcycle. From there, he was referred to the district hospital. He died there around 1 pm the next day,” she said.
An FIR naming five boys has been filed. “They were charged with culpable homicide and under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. All five accused are in the 12-15 years age group. The boy, it appears, did not receive severe external injuries, but suffered a hemorrhage due to the assault,” said Circle Officer, Gabhana, Neeraj Kumar Jadaun.
He added, “This seems to have been an altercation between children and nobody thought it would end in death. In her testimony, Akash’s mother has made no allegations of caste-based violence.”
Akash’s family members alleged that two days before the incident, he had been beaten up by the same group when he went to a nearby pond to graze the family’s goats. They also bullied him in school, said his brother Sundar (22).