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In yet another incident of atrocity against Dalits, a 13-year-old boy from Vithalapur village of Ahmedabad district was badly beaten up by a group of upper caste Darbar community boys in neighbouring Becharaji town of Mehsana district for his ‘etiquette’ like wearing Rajwadi Mojari and thick gold chain Wednesday. The accused boys had made two videos of their act on mobile phones and published it on social media following which the incident came to light.
The victim has been identified as Mahesh Rathod, a resident of Vithalapur village of Ahmedabad district. Mahesh’s family belongs to Valmiki community, the most backward among Dalits, and they earn their livelihood by playing ‘dhol (drum)’ in the village and surrounding areas.
In the two videos, which have gone viral on social media, the Darbar boys are seen slapping and kicking Mahesh for ‘being’ a Darbar. In one video, shot on a roadside, the upper caste boys are seen beating Mahesh briefly and then one of them asks the other to take the victim to some secluded place.
In the second video, the accused boys are seen with Mahesh at some secluded place with babool plants in the background. Throughout the video, the victim is seen in apologetic gestures with folded hands with the accused asking him to seek pardon reportedly for ‘attempting to look like Darbar’.
One of the accused even lifted Mahesh and threw him on the ground. While two accused were seen beating the boy, one was shooting the incident. In fact, they started beating him after making sure that the video had started.
Mahesh, who failed class VIII, was wearing jeans, a shirt, a thick gold chain and Rajwadi Mojaris. In the second video, the accused even ask Mahesh to massage their legs. Eventually, the video ends with Mahesh trying to escape and one of the accused boys chasing him. The details behind the incident, as told by Mahesh, are even more shocking.
Speaking with The Indian Express, Mahesh said, “This happened yesterday when I had gone to Becharaji to get a hair cut. Barbers in our village do not cut our (Dalits) hair. So, I had gone to Becharaji, some 15-20 km from my village. There when I was standing at a shop, these youths asked me about my identity. I told them that I am a Valmiki. So, they got angry on me asking how come, being a Dalit, I stay so ‘etiquette’. Then I told them that I am a Darbar. But, then they realised that I am indeed a Valmiki. And so, they started beating me for saying calling myself a Darbar.”
Mahesh identified one of the accused as one ‘Bharatsinh’ from his Vithalapur village. After the videos of the event went viral, many social workers reached the victim to provide them help. However, Mahesh’s father was too scared to let his son lodge any complaint against the accused. “We are very poor and very less in number. They (the accused) are powerful. What if they do something serious (kill my son) in future,” Parshottam Rathod, Mahesh’s father had said earlier in the day while speaking with The Indian Express.
However, later in the day, Mehsana police visited the victim at their home, instilled confidence in them and persuaded them to lodge a complaint against the accused. And eventually, they agreed to lodge the complaint.
Mehsana Superintendent of Police Chaintanya Mandalik said, “We saw the videos on social media and took it very seriously. I sent a team to the victim to instill confidence in them to lodge a complaint. In fact, we were prepared to lodge a complaint even on the government’s side, in case the victim was not ready to lodge complaint.”
“But, now they are ready and we are registering an FIR under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes &
Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against the accused whose currently three, but exact number will be known after investigation,” Mandalik added.