A 20-YEAR-OLD Dalit man was allegedly chased and beaten to death in Pimple Saudagar suburb of Pune, reportedly over an inter-caste relationship with a woman belonging to an “upper caste”. Police have arrested four family members of the woman and detained two minors, all of whom have been booked for murder and under provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The incident took place on the night of June 7. The deceased was identified as Viraj Vilas Jagtap. Police identified the four arrested persons as the girl’s father, Jagdish Kate, brother Sagar, uncle Kailas and cousin Hemant. Two minors from the family have also been detained. An FIR in the case was lodged by Viraj’s uncle, Jitesh Jagtap.
According to police, the girl’s family members have accused Viraj of stalking and harassing her and that the fight took place over the “trouble he was causing to the girl”. The Jagtap family is from the Dalit community.
Police said Viraj was a second-year student in the Arts stream at a local college and was working part time in a transport business.
According to the FIR, Viraj, who was on his bike, was initially chased by six persons in a tempo. They hit his bike from behind after which he fell down and started running. After chasing him further, one of the accused hit him on the head with a heavy metal rod and another threw a rock at him. Four of the accused held his hands and legs while Jagdish used casteist slurs against him and spat at him for being in a relationship with his daughter, the FIR states.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Jitesh said, “On the night of the attack, Viraj got a call between 9 pm and 9.30 pm. He left home on his bike. Sometime later, my other nephew got a call on his mobile phone that Viraj had been in a fight in Pimple Saudagar. We went to the spot and found him lying there with injuries on the head and other parts of the body. He was still conscious, so we rushed him to a hospital and, in the meantime, Viraj told me what had happened,” adding that he succumbed to his injuries.
Jitesh further said, “We want police to investigate the matter without being biased and ensure that the accused get maximum punishment. Viraj is survived by his mother. He lost his father when he was only one year old.”
Pimpri-Chinchwad Police Commissioner Sandeep Bishnoi said a further probe was on. Inspector Ajay Bhosale, Sangvi police station, said, “The accused have been booked for murder, unlawful assembly and also under relevant sections of SC/ST Act. They have alleged that Viraj was stalking and harassing the girl and had been warned before. On the night of the incident, they had an argument followed by a fight. We will also speak to the girl to know her side of things.”
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