Five days after Dalits were beaten up at Bodwad village in Jalgaon for playing songs on Ambedkar over the loudspeaker, the police on Monday said a few youngsters from the community had caused the provocation by insulting upper caste women.
Fourteen persons from the upper caste Mali and Maratha communities have been arrested.
Activists in Jalgaon said Dalits had played Buddhist and Ambedkar’s songs over loudspeakers during a wedding. “People from the higher caste could not tolerate the music. Around 100 people from the Maratha community abused them and beat them up. Six of the Dalits have been seriously injured,” activist Sham Sonar told The Hindu on the phone.
The police, however, say tensions between the two communities started a week ago after Dalit youth abused and threw stones at women who defecated in public. “The women did not want to register a formal complaint. The youth of the two communities clashed over the issue, and some people were injured,” said Additional Superintendent of Police M.S. Thorat.
The police have registered a case of assault on women under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code against the Dalit youth.
The 14 people arrested for the attack on Dalits face various charges under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
They have been remanded in police custody for a week.
Cases of atrocities on Dalits are on the rise in Maharashtra. A man was burnt in Gondia district on Saturday. A youth was murdered for talking to an upper caste girl in Ahmednagar in April.