Angered by the alleged atrocities of higher castes, 12 members of a Dalit family from Bhulon village in Baran district of Rajasthan claimed to have converted to Buddhism.
This came following an incident of assault, for which the police reportedly refused to book the husband of the village sarpanch. One person was arrested in connection with the incident.
The family members took the 22 vows of B.R. Ambedkar for embracing Buddhism on Friday and floated the idols and pictures of Hindu deities into the Baithali river of the village after taking out a procession. The family of the victims of assault, Rajendra and Ramhet, had earlier demanded in a complaint made to the police that the sarpanch’s husband, Rahul Sharma, be arraigned as an accused.
Rajendra had lodged a case of assault against Lalchand Lodha of Bhulon village on October 5, alleging that he had attacked them while taking exception to the Dalit family worshipping goddess Durga at an event during the Navaratri festival. According to the complaint, Mr. Sharma joined Mr. Lodha in assaulting the two brothers, saying that the lower castes had no right to worship the Hindu deities.
Both brothers sustained injuries on their head during the alleged assault. The police registered a case under the relevant Sections of Indian Penal Code and Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and arrested Mr. Lodha. A court has since released Mr. Lodha on bail.
District Bairwa Mahasabha Yuva Morcha president Balmukund Bairwa said the police had not booked Mr. Sharma in the case despite the Dalit groups having submitted memorandums to the authorities. He alleged that influential people belonging to higher castes were threatening to kill the Dalit families and drive them out of the village.
“We suspect that the police are trying to shield the accused because of their political influence. Dalits will stage a massive demonstration outside the sub-divisional magistrate’s office in Chhabra unless an urgent action is taken,” Mr. Bairwa said. He said the State government had failed to protect Dalits and stop the atrocities perpetrated against them.
The police have maintained that the first information report had named only Mr. Lodha as an accused, who was promptly arrested. Baran Superintendent of Police Kalyan Mal Meena said since the Dalit family had levelled allegation against the sarpanch’s husband, the investigation had been kept open and action would be taken if any evidence was found.