A 22-year-old Dalit man was on Tuesday beaten to death, allegedly by a shopkeeper and his associates who accused him of stealing wrist watches from a stall at a fair in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district.
According to the FIR, after they caught hold of the victim, Avaneesh, the accused asked him his caste. When he told them he is Dalit, the men allegedly beat him and hit him on the head with a stick.
Avaneesh’s neighbour and the complainant, 14-year-old Prasoon, sustained injuries trying to save him.
On Wednesday, police arrested shopkeepers Pushpendra Singh and Sanjeev Verma in connection with the case. The watches were allegedly stolen from Singh’s shop.
The two will be produced before the court on Thursday. Police are looking for two other men who also allegedly beat up Avaneesh.
Avaneesh was a resident of Nakeda village in Mohammadi, located about 40 km from where he was killed. Ashok Pandey, the Station House Officer at Gola police station, said that Avaneesh and Prasoon had left home on Monday night to visit Gola Gokarannath temple and the Bhootnath Mela, an annual fair which starts on July 20 and continues for a month.
According to Pandey, Prasoon told police that at 2 am, he and Avaneesh stopped at a stall at the fair to buy a watch. While selecting a watch, Avaneesh allegedly kept three inside his pocket, Prasoon told police. That’s when Singh caught Avaneesh and started abusing him. Soon, other shopkeepers joined him. But Avaneesh explained that he had kept the watches in his pocket and was about to pay for them when Pushpendra caught hold of him, Prasoon said in his complaint.
The complaint stated that shopkeepers asked Avaneesh his caste and started beating him when he said he is Dalit. Pushpendra allegedly hit the victim on his head with a stick.
Prasoon told police that he tried to intervene, but the shopkeepers beat him up and he ran away to escape them. The accused left Avaneesh unconscious, bleeding profusely, Prasoon told police.
Other shopkeepers later rushed Avaneesh to the district hospital, where he was declared brought dead.
After Prasoon approached the police, an FIR was filed, charging the four men with culpable homicide not amounting to murder and also booking them under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Asked if there was laxity on part of the police, Lakhimpur Kheri SP Akhilesh Chaurasia said that it was the policemen on duty at the fair who took Prasoon to the police station.
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