By PIYUSH RAI
Rajat, a Dalit youth was allegedly forced to shave off his moustache by a group of youth from the upper caste community in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh.
A resident of Shimlana village, within limits of Badgaon police station, Rajat (22), a final year engineering student, in his complaint claimed he was held, threatened, abused, and forcefully taken to a barber shop where his moustache was shaved off.
In a video that has surfaced on social media, Rajat can be seen cooperating with the people around him at the barber shop. He can be heard requesting the accused to not further humiliate him by recording the video.
Rajat’s family claimed that he was being threatened but kept quiet about it under fear. “He (Rajat) was being constantly threatened and tortured by the same people. When he came back home, I asked why he shaved his moustache. He was under so much fear, he said he did on his own freewill. We learnt about the incident when the video surfaced and then he narrated his ordeal,” Sonu, Rajat’s elder brother said.
The incident took place on 18 July but the police took cognisance after a video surfaced on social media, which led to a protest by Bhim Army on 22 July.
An FIR under sections 147, 148, 323, 504, and 506 of the Indian Penal Code and relevant section of SC/ST (Prevention of atrocities) act was registered against seven accused: Neeraj Rana, Satyam Rana, Mokam Rana, Rupantu Rana, Monty Rana, Sandeep Rana, and the barber Rajendra at Badgaon police station.
Speaking to The Quint, Upendra Agarwal, Deputy Inspector General (Saharanpur range) said teams have been formed to trace all the named accused in the case.
“An FIR has been registered against seven accused. Teams have been formed to trace and arrest them. Considering the previous cases of caste conflict in the region, I request this matter to not be blown out of proportion,” Agarwal said.
History of Caste Tensions in Saharanpur
Badgaon area in Saharanpur has been the epicentre of caste conflict in the region. The area saw a spate of caste-violence in April-May 2017 when the Dalits and Thakur communities from Shabbirpur village came at loggerheads.
It all started in April 2017 when Dalits from Shabbirpur village were denied permission by the Thakur community to install a bust of BR Ambedkar on the premises of the Ravidas temple in the village.
In retaliation, the Dalit community on 5 May 2017 opposed when members of the Thakur community from Shabbirpur village were on their way to the nearby Simlana village to garland the statue of Maharana Pratap. Dalits allegedly resorted to stone-pelting, leading to the death of a Rajput man named Sumit Rajput in the clash.
In retaliation, a mob of Thakur community then allegedly attacked a Dalit colony, and ransacked and torched their houses. While one person had died, oevr a dozen were injured in the clash.
This story first appeared on thequint.com