Dalit man dies after being beaten by upper castes for eating alongside them at wedding in Tehri
Dehradun: Jitendra Das, a 23-year-old Dalit man from Nainbagh tehsil in Tehri district of Garhwal died at the Shri Mahant Indiresh Hospital (SMIH) on Sunday after his family alleged that he had been brutally beaten up by upper caste persons for “daring to sit near them and have food at a wedding.” The incident took place on April 26. Das was initially taken to a local community health centre, and subsequently referred to SMIH on April 28 where he was undergoing treatment since then.
Soon after Das’s death, his relatives and other villagers sat on a dharna outside Coronation Hospital (where his body was taken for a post-mortem). An inconsolable Pooja Das, his sister, who was
among the protestors, told TOI that the wedding where the incident took place was a Dalit wedding organised by her family.
“It was our cousin brother’s marriage. My brother made the mistake that he took food from the same counter from where upper caste people were eating. He then sat on a chair next to them.”
“This infuriated them,” she added. “Woh bole yeh neech jaati ka humare sath nahi kha sakta. Khayega to marega (They said that this lower caste cannot sit and eat along with us. If he does, he will be beaten up). My brother was the sole earning member of our family. What will we do now? The accused are threatening us to withdraw the case,” she added before fainting on the road outside Coronation Hospital where a large police force was deployed on Sunday evening after around 50 villagers threatened to march to CM’s house seeking justice for Das. Sandeep Khanna, one of the panchyat members from Nainbagh who was accompanying the family of the victim to Dehradun told TOI that the police took a lot of time to file an FIR in the case and no arrest has been made till now even when the accused had been booked under SC/ST Act.
“They deployed such a large number of police to stop us but they have failed to arrest a single accused in Tehri,” Khanna said adding that this is not the first case of atrocities against Dalits in the area.
“Around six months back, an upper caste man had beaten a Dalit for not giving him liquor. The victim is still missing. Police hasn’t filed an FIR in the case even after repeated attempts,” he alleged. Talking to TOI, Uttam Singh, circle officer, Narendra Nagar, said that the victim’s kin had filed an FIR on April 28 after which police booked seven-named persons under relevant sections of the IPC and SC/ST Act.
SSP Dehradun, Nivedita Kukreti meanwhile said that police is trying to keep the situation under control.
“This matter is of another district. Police is cooperating with the kin but we have to ensure that no untoward incident happens in the city,” she added.