A Dalit man was allegedly assaulted by a security guard hired by the Kukke Subrahmanya Temple authorities after the man and his 50-year-old mother refused to spend the night at a bus-stand meant for the “lower castes”.

The assault has left Yadava (24) needing an operation to regain sight completely and to fix his perforated ear drum.

On September 10 evening, Mr. Yadava, an Adi Dravida, and his mother Neelamma arrived at the temple from Nidagal in Belthangady taluk, to pray for Mr. Yadava’s health. “He has been suffering from illnesses and because of this he could not continue his work as an agricultural labourer. My husband died a year ago, and we have to earn our livelihood,” said Ms. Neelamma.

However, with a public puja having been scheduled the next day, they struggled to find a room to spend the night. On not finding one, they decided to sleep in the verandah of a boarding house close to the temple, where many other pilgrims were present.

As they were about to fall asleep, Ms. Neelamma said a security guard woke them up. “He first asked us where we came from. Then he asked us which caste we belonged to. When I told him we were Dalits, he told us to sleep in the bus-stand,” she said.

When Mr. Yadava protested, the guard held him by his collar and allegedly started thrashing him. Ms. Neelamma tried to stop the assault, but was pushed aside. After the five-minute assault —which Ms. Neelamma says was witnessed by pilgrims sleeping there –— her son was hurt in the eye, left with a bleeding ear, bloody nose and severe bruises on the face.

Eventually, they spent the night on the road outside the temple. By morning, he had high fever and the pain had become intolerable. So, he was admitted to hospital in Kadaba on Tuesday morning, and later shifted to Puttur Government General Hospital.

At Kukke Subrahmanya, temple authorities said the incident occurred because Mr. Yadava was drunk and attempted to molest a girl. Authorities came to the defence of the security guard, who, they said, merely sent them out “without using force.”

“Mr. Yadava has faked his injuries. Now they have got hold of a Dalit Sangha to blackmail us for money,” said an official of the temple management committee to The Hindu. They even submitted to the police a complaint by the girl who was allegedly harassed. She said in the complaint that Mr. Yadava harassed her and “the security guard had done nothing wrong”. However, later in the evening, the security guard was called to the Subrahmanya police station, where he apologised and the temple authorities gave Rs. 10,000 as compensation to the victim. Neelamma said she accepted it as her son will not be able to work for a few more months.

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