A group of people allegedly attacked a gathering of Dalits attending a prayer meeting at Raikashipur village in Pratapgarh district Monday. While the Dalits got an FIR lodged, a counter FIR was registered Tuesday on the basis of a complaint filed by the village head. Police said around ten people were injured in the clash and no arrests had been made yet.
According to the police, they had received reports that the assailants allegedly tore up a religious book and vandalised the area where the prayer meeting was being held, damaging a music system, chairs and three motorcycles before escaping in SUVs.
Ram Kumar Gautam, who had organised the prayer meeting, said, “I was offering prayers along with 40 others in the village when some goons arrived on three SUVs carrying sticks and guns in their hands and started beating us. They damaged the music system, speakers and took our laptop with them. The goons who attacked us were close aides of the village head.”
He said he did not know why they were attacked.
While Gautam did not name the village head in the case, he named four villagers apart from 20 unidentified men in his complaint, on the basis of which an FIR was registered.
The village head too filed a complaint against Gautam and his associates, and police registered a counter FIR on Tuesday. The village head and his son could not be contacted despite several calls and messages.
Both cases were lodged under IPC sections 147 (rioting), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Station House Officer (SHO) of Sangramgarh police station, Deepak Kumar, said that Gautam had been drawn to Christianity around 7-8 years ago and had been organising such prayer meetings since then.
“At around 2 pm, Gautam and a few others were offering prayers at the gram samaj ground where loudspeakers had been installed. A group of people arrived there and a clash occurred between the two groups. Around 10 persons suffered injuries and were discharged from the hospital after primary treatment,” the SHO said, adding that Gautam had not taken permission for organising the prayer meeting in a public place.