Bharat Reddy, who was caught on camera allegedly humiliating and assaulting two Dalits in November last year, was granted bail.

Telangana Dalits assault case Activists slam grand welcome given to accused
news Controversy Thursday, June 28, 2018 - 17:55

Expelled BJP member Bharat Reddy, accused of assaulting two Dalits in Abhangapatnam, Nizamabad was released on bail on Wednesday. Videos have emerged of the accused being given a grand welcome allegedly by members belonging to BJP, RSS and VHP, who hug him with a ‘Jai Shri Ram’ greeting. His supporters also took out a bike rally, chanting slogans ‘Bharat anna zindabad’.

The Hyderabad High Court quashed the Prevention Detention Act against Reddy on Wednesday, following which he was released from the Nizamabad jail after serving imprisonment of nearly six months. Reddy was arrested on December 11, a month after the police launched a manhunt to nab him.

On November 17 last year, Reddy humiliated both Bachula Rajeshwar and Kondra Lakshman, residents of Abhangapatnam in Navipet with casteist slurs and forced them to take a dip in the pond. This as they had allegedly objected to his men mining sand from the water body. Two days later, the video of the incident went viral, following which Reddy went into hiding, even as the victims went missing. Following outrage from the Dalit community, a case under SC/ST Atrocities Act was registered against him by the police based on video evidence. Eighteen days later, the victims told Hyderabad police that the entire act was choreographed, and the video was part of a short film. However, after coming back to the village, the victims mustered the courage, telling the police that Reddy had abducted them and threatened them to tell the police that the video was a part of a short film.

Activist Sujatha Surepally, convenor of Bahujan Prathighatana Vedika (BPV), who led the ‘Chalo Abhangapatnam’ movement in solidarity with the victims and demanding the arrest of Bharat Reddy alleged that the men wearing saffron shawls, who welcomed him were BJP members. She alleged that the grand welcome by the BJP exposes the hypocrisy of the party.

“The BJP earlier claimed that they had expelled him and strangely protested at the Collectorate to arrest him. But now the same people welcome him and take a huge rally. Does this expose their stand? The BJP views Dalits only as a vote bank,” she alleged.

Condemning the grand reception, she alleged that BJP, RSS and VHP members embracing an accused, who abused and assaulted Dalits with casteist slurs, exposed their hatred for Dalits.

“The BJP, RSS and VHP hate Dalits. They treat them as inferiors. This one example is testimony to it. Bharat Reddy is a criminal, everyone saw how he humiliated Rajeshwar and Lakshman, yet the BJP, RSS and VHP stand behind him and embrace him. So, the Dalits need to understand that RSS is never for the Dalits. They are casteists,” Sujatha alleged.

She further alleged that the victims were vulnerable to attacks from Bharat Reddy and demanded police protection. “If anything happens to them. Bharat Reddy should be held responsible for it,” Sujatha said.

Kula Nirmoolana Porata Samithi (anti-caste struggle forum) state president B Lakshmaiah told TNM, “The grand reception given to this criminal is absolutely shameful. How can an accused who was caught on video abusing Dalits be given such a welcome?”

He pointed out that the victims would be targeted again, if he continues to be in the village. “It is a known thing that the accused had previously abducted the victims and threatened them. If such a criminal is out on bail, how can one be certain about the victims’ safety?”

Lakshmaiah said that the release of Bharat Reddy will further lead to social boycott of the victims in a severe manner.

After the incident, both Rajeshwar and Lakshman allegedly faced a social boycott as the upper castes in the village refused to give any work to them.  

“The men, who welcomed him are members of BJP. This is enough to tell the stand of BJP about Dalits,” alleged U Sambasiva Rao, state co-ordinator of BPV.

Speaking to TNM, one of the victims, Rajeshwar said, “We did no wrong. So, there’s no need for us to fear anyone. We want to lead a peaceful life, so our request to the government is to provide three-acre land and a job so that we can sustain ourselves.”

After a three-month struggle to find employment, both Rajeshwar and Lakshman are making a living by reviving the village lake under the MNREGA scheme.

 

 

 

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