Fact-finding team flags lapses in probe into killing of Dalit youths in Tumakuru

Alleging several lapses in the investigation, the fact-finding committee demands a change of the Investigating Officer (IO)

A fact-finding report on the killings of two Dalit youths in Peedanahalli, Tumakuru district, on April 21, states that the two youths were lynched by several villagers. The report also alleges several lapses in the investigation and demands a change of the Investigating Officer (IO).

The fact-finding committee was led by multiple Dalit organisations, Alternate Law Forum (ALF) and People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).

“The deceased Girish P. M. of Peddanahalli village was a Dalit leader questioning the upper caste persons in the village and was involved in certain fights, which is why he seems to be targeted. An upper caste boy came to his house and took him out under the garb of visiting a nearby temple fair, only to be beaten up by a mob who accused him of stealing borewell starters in the village, which is unfounded. His friend Manchaladore Girish was also targeted with him. Several villagers have participated in the lynching,” alleged Dr. K. B. Obalesh of Safai Karamchari Kavalu Samiti, who led the fact-finding committee.

The fact-finding report finds several lapses and partisanship in the investigation that has seen over 30 arrests so far.

“The inquest proceedings of the two bodies itself was not transparent. There have been several lapses, from non-recording of body injuries to non-recovery of key evidence from the scene of crime. Family members were asked to sign on empty sheets for the inquest. Copies of the FIR and post-mortem reports have not been provided to them,” the report alleges. The FIR does not book the accused under relevant sections of the SC-ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, giving leeway to the accused.

A Dalit man, who witnessed the lynching, called up P. M. Girish’s brother Sridhar around 1.45 am the same night, and informed him of the ongoing attack. By the time Sridhar could reach the spot, the two bodies were discovered.

“Police have arrested the caller as an accused, but have refused to record his statement. They have not recorded the statement of the deceased’s brother Sridhar, blocking key witness statements,” the report states. “The present IO in the case belongs to the same caste as that of the accused in the case. So, he should be immediately changed,” the committee has demanded.

They have also demanded protection for the families of the deceased.

Rahul Kumar Shahapurwad, Superintendent of Police, Tumakuru, met the fact-finding committee. He informed that the district police had promptly noted all the issues raised by the committee. He said they would be integrated into the probe.

This article first appeared on thehindu.com

Related Articles