Even as the country is celebrating Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary, a case of caste atrocity has been reported from Jalgaon district.
The incident is believed to have happened in Vivare Budruk village in Raver taluka on the occasion of Ram Navami on Friday around 8 p.m. A procession comprising of members of Maratha Patil, Leva Patil and Jire Mali communities, reportedly led an attack on the Buddhist colony in the village, injuring six persons, according to the police.
According to a complaint lodged on Saturday by Chandrakant Gadhe, 34, when the Ram Navami procession reached the Buddhist colony, adjacent to an Ambedkar statue, some of those participating in the procession started to hurl abuses and pull down flags and banners hoisted by the residents the previous day for Ambedkar Jayanti.
“They abused us by our caste name ‘Mahar’ [lower caste], Dalits, untouchables and ‘Mahar’ Ambedkar. They threatened to pull down the Ambedkar statue and burn it. They also said they would abduct ‘Mahar’ women. I got a blow on my head with a rod and they threatened to kill me,” Mr. Gadhe’s police complaint states.
He also said that the miscreants cut off power supply to the Buddhist quarters by burning the transformer after which they started to throw stones and bricks, seriously injuring many people. While the locals claimed that 35 people were hurt, the police put the number of injured at six.
“The assailants used fire-sprays, with which they were igniting the flags and banners. There was no power supply in the village for nearly one-and-a-half hours, during which the stone throwing took place,” Sangharsh Damodar, an activist of the Bharatiya Boudha Mahasabha said.
A 38-year-old man Bharat Gadhe died on Saturday morning and his body was taken to the rural hospital for an autopsy. His relatives refused to claim the body, and demanded that a case of murder under Section 302 be registered. However, the police said Bharat’s death was due to illness and was not linked to the incident.
Jalinder Supekar, Superintendent of Police, Jalgaon, said 19 people had been arrested and cases have been registered under Section 3 (1) (x) and 3 (1) (xi) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act; and under relevant IPC sections for rioting, unlawful assembly, attempt to murder, outraging the modesty of a woman, mischief by fire, causing hurt with dangerous weapon, intentional insult, criminal intimidation; and under the Bombay Police Act for carrying, collection and preparation of stones and disobeying orders.
As per Mr Gadhe’s complaint, the village has a history of caste animosity. Last November, the caste Hindus objected to a board bearing Dr Ambedkar’s name at the entrance of a road leading to Babasaheb’s statue. Mr Damodar said that in the gram panchayat elections held six months ago, the post of sarpanch was reserved for the SC community and this had aggravated caste hostilities.
Incident is believed to have happened in Vivare Budruk village in district’s Raver taluka