In a fiery exchange of words, a large gathering of members of the Byra community — a Scheduled Caste — voiced their anger against the district police on Sunday for allegedly having mishandled a recent assault case on a member of their community.

During the monthly Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) grievance meeting held at the office of the Superintendent of Police here, the Bantwala Taluku Byra Samaja Seva Sangha brought up the issue of Sandeep (22), a bus conductor, who was assaulted at Manchi Katte, Bantwal taluk by two men on February 4.

Sandeep said that on February 4, he and the driver were travelling on the bus – Mangalore to B.C. Road, via Konaje route – when Sunil and his younger brother Sujith brought the bus to a halt by parking their autorickshaw in front of it, and proceeded to assault him.

“Sunil was a driver with the travels, and was forcibly given a few days off as a new driver had joined and needed to be trained. However, he (Sunil) thought he had been removed from the job, and blamed me for it,” said Sandeep. The assault, he added, was accompanied by caste slurs.

Sandeep’s father K. Srinivas alleged that when they went to Bantwal Rural Police station around 8 p.m., the policemen on duty were drunk, and were fighting among themselves. “It should be called Bantwal Bar and Restaurant and not Bantwal Rural Police Station. One was beating his chest and saying he was the SP,” he said, to thundering applause from those gathered.

The complaint was registered around midnight after the arrival of the police inspector, he said. An attempt to murder case was registered.

The Sangha alleged there was political pressure that had delayed the arrest of Sujith. “Sunil has been arrested, but he got bail as the police did not inform the court that he was booked under Prevention of Atrocities (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Act nor that there was a lethal assault case,” said

Mr. Srinivas. Sadananda Warnekar, in-charge Assistant Superintendent of Police (Puttur Sub-division), who chaired the meeting, said Sujith had surrendered before the police a few days ago.

“There does not seem to be an intention to kill, and there were no grievous injuries. We do not have prima facie evidence of lethal assault,” he told The Hindu.

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