Cow terrorism, which was earlier restricted to the northern states, seems to be spreading to the south. Eleven Dalits were attacked on the eve of Sankranti in Telangana, allegedly by a cow vigilante group with members from the RSS and BJP.
The incident took place in Chinnakandukuru village of Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district on the night of January 14. However, it came to light on Thursday.
Around 11pm on January 12, the village elders from the Madiga community gathered to slaughter a cow, as is their tradition. However, the cow vigilantes who learnt about the incident rushed to the spot on their bikes, armed with sticks, and attacked the Dalits.
Speaking to TNM, one of the victims, Yerram Chandraiah said, â€śWe were about to slaughter the cow, when suddenly vehicles with lights blinding our eyes came towards us. We thought that they were police. Suddenly, these 20-30 men wielding sticks came to attack us. We ran in the dark. They caught a few of us, and we were abused and assaulted.â€ť
â€śThey asked us: Are you Muslims to eat cow meat?â€ť Chandraiah said.
Chandraiah also alleged that the goons vandalised his home and stole his cow meant for milk.
Another villager, Mahesh Yerra from the same basthi, said, â€śIt is a tradition that our people would slaughter a weak old cow and celebrate the festival. But these people attacked my people, claiming it is against their faith. They stopped our celebrations.â€ť
The victims with the help of local progressive groups filed a complaint with the Motakondur police the next day.
The victims said that they couldnâ€™t identify the entire group, but were able to identify two of the goons in the group â€“ Kokala Sandeep and K Ravinder Reddy from the same village.
Reportedly, Reddy is a repeat offender. In the past too, he has attacked Dalits in a nearby village when they were cooking beef during a festival.
Based on their complaint, police filed an FIR under section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and the SC/ST atrocities act, informed police.
Meanwhile, Dalit-Bahujan activists on Thursday visited the village to express solidarity with the victims and sat on a relay hunger strike condemning the incident. They also submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner of Police.
The activists urged the DCP to invoke SC/ST atrocities case against the accused, open a history sheet case against Reddy for being a repeat offender, and also to set up a police post to ensure the safety of the victims.