Accused, however, were booked under Atrocities Act.
Mumbai: Jalgaon guardian minister Girish Mahajan on Friday attempted to play down the recent incident in which three dalit boys were allegedly stripped and beaten by the mob for swimming in a well at Vakadi village. Even though a case was registered — after which, two alleged assailants were arrested and the government announced compensation to the victims’ families under the Atrocities Act — the minister insisted that the incident did not constitute a case of caste discrimination. To drive his point home, the minister said that the victims’ parents, too, had told the court that it was not a case of caste discrimination.
Meanwhile, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Republican Party of India (RPI) leaders alleged that the boys were beaten because they belonged to the Matang (SC/ST) community. The incident reinforces the view that atrocities against dalits are taking place in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states. RPI leader and Union minister Ramdas Athawale will visit the village on June 16.
The trio was thrashed on June 10 after they were found to have entered the village well. The police was initially reluctant to register the complaint but did so later after angry outbursts on social media. Two arrested accused were produced before a court and remanded to judicial custody after the boys’ parents gave their statement, said senior officers.
Mr Mahajan visited Wakdi village on Friday and spoke to the villagers and police officers there. It was alleged that the police, in a bid to save the accused, did not carry out a panchnama of the well in which the three boys were swimming. Instead, they carried out a panchnama of another well, water from which was used for drinking purposes by upper caste residents.
As per Supreme Court directions, the SP (superintendent of police) or DCP should give sanction for registering the complaint under the Atrocities Act after preliminary inquiry. In this case however, the SP gave sanction for registering the offence under the said act and an initial compensation of Rs 25,000 was immediately handed over to the boys’ families on Friday. However, these families were now saying that they asked the accused to punish these boys as they were not listening to them.
Meanwhile, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik alleged that Minister Mahajan is pressuring the family members to withdraw the case for protecting the accused.