Almost two weeks after upper caste Hindus allegedly beat up a Dalit youth and urinated in his mouth in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district, police on Thursday called for a ‘peace committee’ — a meeting between the victim and the accused — to settle the issue.
The meeting was called by Uthangarai deputy superintendent of police Baskaran. But some in the village said it was meant to force Aravindhan (18), who was attacked during a temple festival in his village on March 2, to withdraw his complaint. Aravindhan, too, said he was “forced” to attend the meeting at the DSP’s office.
Aravindhan, who belongs to the Kuravar community, had been working in Bangalore till last month. “He left his job and returned home since we were trying to get him a job in Singapore. It was almost confirmed and his passport verification process was on when the attack took place,” said Saritha, Aravindhan’s sister, adding that they have faced more threats since the incident.
“The police are refusing to take action and no arrests have been made. Pressure is building on us to withdraw the complaint,” Saritha said.
Meanwhile, an officer said that besides Aravindhan and his friend Dinesh, who was also attacked, four of the seven accused attended the peace meeting.
“My friend Dinesh was with me when a local gang surrounded us and started attacking him. I tried to stop them, but they dragged us to a urine shed and beat us with belt and sticks. They abused us on the basis of our caste and tied up my hands with a belt. When I asked for water, one of them urinated in my mouth,” said Aravindhan.
“Police did not ask me to withdraw the complaint, but I was threatened that I will be imprisoned if I don’t reveal the ‘truth’,” Aravindhan added. He said the police initially refused to register a case. “Now they are alleging we attempted to misbehave with women and that led to the attack. Today I was told about this new case against me after I was forced to sit before four accused who attacked me,” he said.
It was a similar peace committee called by Namakkal district administration that had forced author Perumal Murugan to sign an affidavit agreeing to withdraw a controversial book in January.
The FIR initially omitted details of how Aravindhan was humiliated. Later it was revised to include the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. But Baskaran denied reports that he tried to settle the case. “The case itself is false. It is true he was severely beaten up. But I don’t believe they urinated in his mouth. That’s a false complaint. Anyway we are probing the issue. We have not registered a case against Aravindhan. The accused will surrender before the court,” he said.