A 20-year-old Dalit youth was allegedly assaulted for wearing sunglasses and riding a motorcycle in Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore district.
Three of the four accused men were arrested on Wednesday after the victim’s community staged protests demanding action.
Speaking to The Federal, Dalit activist Kathir said that Alagesan, the victim, was assaulted with logs by a group of men from a forward caste for wearing sunglasses and riding a motorcycle in Patikudikadu village on Monday (August 5).
He further said that earlier, an altercation had broken out between Alagesan and the main accused, Gopi, when the victim was returning home with his sister-in-law after buying jewellery. According to reports, Gopi had told the victim to “show respect to the people of their caste.”
Around 4 PM on Monday, when Alagesan stepped out of his house, a group of men led by Gopi attacked him. On being informed, Alagesan’s mother Annakili and his relative Satyamoorthy rushed to his rescue. There, they attacked Annakili with a sickle and she had to be hospitalised.
However, Chidambaram DSP Karthikeyan discarded the caste angle and said it was a stone-pelting incident which occurred due to personal enmity. “Both the accused and the victim were under the influence of alcohol,” he said.
Besides Gopi, all the three other accused have been arrested and booked under the SC/ST Act after a complaint was lodged by the victim, the DSP said.
He added that there have been no major instances of clashes between the two communities in the village as “people live in unity there.”
However, activist Kathir said that caste-based discrimination is an everyday affair in the village. “Dalits complain that they cannot wear new clothes, enter temples, travel by vehicles or drink tea in the same type of glasses (as those used by the forward caste people),” he said.
He also questioned how the DSP could discard it as a stone-pelting incident when the medical report showed that Alagesan’s mother was injured by a weapon.
The Federal couldn’t reach the victim for his comments.