An appalling crime fuelled by caste has surfaced in Thiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu where a Dalit man was allegedly beaten up, urinated upon and forced to eat human faeces by caste Hindu men. The incident took place on April 28 when the 45-year-old victim, who hails from a village near Mannargudi in Thiruvarur district, was returning home from his brick kiln.
Kumar* was allegedly intercepted by S Sakthivel and his relatives, V Rajesh and S Rajkumar, men from the Kallar caste, at 2.00 am on April 28 when he was riding back home. The three of them allegedly physically assaulted him before humiliating him further.
“I was beaten in the head, kicked, dragged and tortured for about 15 minutes. They force-fed me faeces and all three of them urinated on me. I cannot eat or sleep because of it,” Kumar told reporters.
The men allegedly fled when they heard Pakkirisamy, 55, of Mahadevan Colony approaching the area. With help from Pakkirisamy and his own relatives, Kumar reached Kottur police station to file a complaint. A TOI report also states that Kumar had to stage a protest before the police filed a complaint. The Kottur police on Monday arrested two of the three accused who are now in judicial custody.
Speaking to TNM, an investigating officer denied any delay in the filing of an FIR.
"As soon as the complaint was filed, we arrested the first accused and the second one was arrested shortly after. The third one is yet to be detained. There was past enmity between the two groups over sand mining in the area. As for the veracity of his charges, we have booked the accused under the SC/ST Act but are still investigating if all the allegations are true," he said.
A case was registered under Sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 294 b (uttering obscene words in a public place), 352 (using criminal force to any person otherwise than on grave and sudden provocation) and 506 (2) (an offence of criminal intimidation under the IPC). They were also booked under provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, including Section 3(1)(r) (intentionally insulting or intimidating with intent to humiliate a member of scheduled caste or scheduled tribe by caste name in any place within public view) and 3(1)(s) (abusing any member of a Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe by caste name in any place within public view).
However, section 3(1)(a) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act (Punishments for offences atrocities) which refers to an act that can be described as ‘puts any inedible or obnoxious substance into the mouth of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or forces such member to drink or eat such inedible or obnoxious substance’ was not included by the police.
Kumar also alleged that the incident was the culmination of a three-year enmity between him and the others. The feud allegedly began when Sakthivel and Rajesh attacked a few Dalit youths for participating in the Ayyanar temple festival at Thiruvaduthurai and Kumar intervened. A complaint was filed and the police stepped in to sort out issues. However, Kumar alleges that Sakthivel has been harbouring hate against him and his family ever since.
Kathir, Executive Director of Evidence, an NGO, has demanded that action be taken against police officials under Section 4 of the SC/ST Act, entailing punishment for neglect of duties. He has also asked for suo motu cognisance of the case to be taken by the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for SCs/STs.
*Name changed to protect privacy