Aroor police has registered case against Ezhupunna native Gopi under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Dalit boy in Kerala allegedly assaulted for trying to bathe in temple pondAccused Gopi
news Caste Thursday, March 12, 2020 - 13:14

15-year-old Vishnu Pranav, a native of Ezhupunna in Alappuzha district, had gone to take a bath in a nearby temple pond on March 6. There had been no water supply in his house for a few days. He wanted to get back home quickly and prepare for the class 10 final exams scheduled to start three days later. Little did he know that he would end up at Cherthala taluk hospital, injured after being allegedly assaulted by a man, who said, “the temple pond is not for Dalit boys.”

The Aroor police has filed a case against the accused, Ezhupunna native Gopi, a retired railway official, who is absconding. He has been booked under sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code. He has also been booked under section 3(2)(v)(a) (offence by a non-Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe against a person knowing that such person is a member of SC/ST) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The incident was first reported by Media One on Tuesday.

Vishnu, who studies at St Raphael's school in Ezhupunna, had gone to the Sreenarayanapuram temple’s pond near his home along with a friend when the alleged incident happened. Gopi, who happened to come to the spot too, questioned why they were standing there.

"When I said we came to take bath, he said that Pulayans (Dalit community) should not take bath in temple pond. Saying this, he released the air from my bicycle's tyre," says Vishnu, in his police complaint.

When the boy questioned Gopi on why he tried to damage his bicycle, the man allegedly assaulted Vishnu.

"When I asked why he damaged the cycle tyre, he said it was so that we are unable go back to our house. He started attacking me, first he hit my neck and threw away my spectacles. When I tried to bend down and pick up the glasses, he again pulled me up, hit my back and then held me against a metal sheet and punched my stomach," Vishnu told the police.

Suresh, Vishnu’s father, was the one who took his son to the hospital.

"On the day of the incident, I was returning home from work. On the way, I saw a crowd near the temple pond. When one of the people standing there saw me coming, he called out my name and said that my son was beaten. I hurried, and saw my son crying, lying curled up on the ground. He said his stomach hurt badly. While this was happening, Gopi, who was in the pond bathing, called my name and challenged me to confront him if I have courage. I just took my child and rushed to hospital," Suresh told TNM.

Vishnu, who was admitted at the Cherthala taluk hospital, got discharged on Tuesday as his class 10 examination had started. 

Meanwhile, Suresh also said that while Gopi belongs to Kudumbi caste (dominant caste), he was not the member of the temple committee.

"Doctor has asked us to conduct a scan for Vishnu as he continues to have stomach pain," he added.

Aroor police told TNM that Gopi, who still absconding, has filed an anticipatory bail plea in court.

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