Thoothukudi police on Tuesday arrested seven people for allegedly forcing a Dalit man to fall at the feet of a man from the OBC Thevar community following a clash between them while grazing sheep and goats.
Dalit shepherd Paulraj (60), who was forced to fall at the feet of Sivasangu (60) from the same village, lodged a police complaint on Monday. The police investigation has also found that a video, reportedly shot by members of the Thevar community and showing Paulraj purportedly falling at Sivasangu’s feet, was circulated among members of the community.
According to police, the incident took place on October 8 when Paulraj and Sivasangu were grazing their goats and sheep. One of Paulraj’s sheep ran into the herd Sivasangu was grazing and the former ran into the latter’s herd to get his sheep. This provoked Sivasangu and he allegedly attacked Paulraj. As both men fought and fell on the ground, a bystander managed to separate them and settle the matter, police told the media at a press meet Tuesday.
Sivasangu later called his relatives and told them that he was attacked by a “lower caste man”, said police. Men from the Thevar community rushed to the spot and forced Paulraj to apologise by falling at Sivasangu’s feet. Paulraj has alleged that he was threatened that if he refused to fall at Sivasangu’s feet, his throat would be slit.
On Tuesday, police arrested Sivasangu, his sons S Sangilipandi (19) and S Maharajan (20) and relatives S Periyamari (47), Veeraiah (42) and Mahendran (20).
They have been booked under sections of the IPC, SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and Information Technology Act.
The district administration has been asked to stay alert as the region has a history of caste clashes and murders between OBC-Thevar and Dalit communities.
“As the accused and the victim are from the same village, we have provided protection at Paulraj’s house for at least a week or till the situation comes under control,” said Thoothukudi SP S Jayakumar.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines