Three minor dalit boys were allegedly stripped, beaten and paraded nude in Vakadi village in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district for allegedly swimming in a village well, officials said on Thursday.
The incident took place on June 10, but the issue came to light only after a video of the children’s ordeal went viral on social media. The incident was criticised by politicians and activists as a crime against humanity.
Following public outcry, the police arrested two accused. According to sources, last Sunday, in a bid to beat the scorching heat, the boys, aged around 12-14, reportedly jumped into the well. However, as locals learned about this, some persons belonging to nomadic tribes
gathered near the well and pulled out the boys. After giving the boys a verbal dressing down, some villagers allegedly forced them to strip and paraded them nude around the village. The video shows the whimpering boys covering their modesty with
leaves while a person is striking their backs and legs with a stick or a leather belt.
Talking to The Asian Age, SP Datta Karale said, “We will keep you posted via a press release.” He refused to divulge further information related to the case.
Meanwhile, revenue minister Chandrakant Patil, who is holding charge in the absence of the chief minister, said that the police has taken stringent action against the culprits and they have been booked under the Atrocities Act and Juvenile Justice Act as well as other provisions. However, he denied that was any caste angle in the matter.
“The owner of the well, Balwant Joshi-Gosavi, belongs to a nomadic tribe. His servants who assaulted the boys are from the Lohar (blacksmith) community, which is also a reserved category. But as the accused are not members of the SC/ST community, the police has booked them under the Atrocities Act. The investigation is ongoing, and if the accused are pressurising the complainant into withdrawing the case, it will be dealt with; nobody will be let off without punishment.”
Reacting to the case, ex-minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Eknath Khadse said that the accused seemed to have a ‘perverted mindset’. “The police should take appropriate and stringent action against them,” he said.
Union minister and Republican Party of India leader Ramdas Athawale said the accused should not go unpunished. “Action should be taken against the accused,” he said.