TWO MONTHS before the video clip of a Dalit youth being beaten up in Muzaffarnagar surfaced this week, there was another video clip doing the rounds — of “photographs and idols of Hindu gods” being broken — in November last year.
That video clip came a month after at least 100 Dalits in the area reportedly converted to Buddhism. Following the video clip in November, seven persons were booked under IPC section 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) in an FIR registered at Purkazi police station. Vipin, the 27-year-old Dalit who was assaulted on Sunday, was one of them. Police records show that Vipin, the eldest son of a labourer, surrendered on December 13 and was sent to judicial custody for two days, before being released on bail.
“The case was lodged after a video clip surfaced of photographs and idols of Hindu gods like Shiva, Ganesh, Durga and others allegedly being broken by them and some objectionable things being said against them,” said a senior police officer.
The latest video clip shows Vipin being forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Bhole Nath ki Jai’ and ‘Ma Kali ki Jai ‘ as he is beaten mercilessly with sticks by three men. Recalling the incident from his bed in Muzaffarnagar district hospital, Vipin said: “Around 5.30 pm on Sunday, I was returning home from my mobile repairing shop in Khanpur, about 15 km from my house in Kaillanpur. I was with my cousin, Sonu, on a motorcycle. About 2 km from our village, a motorcycle rammed into us. As we fell off our motorcycle, some people emerged from the sugarcane fields nearby. They were carrying sticks, metal rods and pistols.”
Vipin suffered injuries on his head and a fracture on his left hand.
“They threatened me with a gun while they beat him up with wooden sticks and metal rods… They accused him of disrespecting Hindu gods,” said Sonu.
His family alleged that Vipin was beaten up, allegedly by members of the Gujjar community, in 2015 too. “The same people, along with some others, had beaten him up in March 2015, and he had sustained head injuries. Since they belong to the upper caste, they cannot tolerate someone from our community answering back,” said his father, Palla.
His family had lodged a police complaint then. According to Vipin, a “minor altercation between children” had led to that incident.
“On October 14 last year, more than 100 Dalits converted to Buddhism, and we were among them. In Buddhism, there is no place for idol worship and many of us who had Hindu idols discarded them,” said Palla.
Kaillanpur village in Purkazi area of Muzaffarnagar has about 400 Gujjars and about 800 Scheduled Caste members. It is about 5 km from the twin villages of Megha and Shakarpur, where at least 700 Gujjars and another 800 Dalits live.
Three villagers from Megha and one from Shakarpur — all below 23 years — have been accused in the assault case.
“They abused our gods, broke idols and threw them in the drain. These gods are also their gods. They are Dalits and belong to the Hindu community after all. Our children must have been infuriated and so they reacted in such a manner,” said Satish, uncle of the two accused from Megha village.
Meanwhile, police said one of the accused was arrested on Tuesday night. “We have lodged an FIR under strict sections and our teams are conducting raids. The other three accused will be arrested soon. The victim’s condition is stable and he is likely to be released from hospital in a day or two,” said Anant Deo, SSP, Muzaffarnagar.