A 24-year-old Dalit man was killed, after he allegedly stopped to relieve himself in a field, by a mob comprising of so-called upper caste community, in Villupuram, Tamil Nadu.
The man, who was brutally beaten to death, was later identified as Sakthivel. He was seen sitting on the ground with his hands and legs tied in a video that is being widely shared on social media.
The police had said that the incident took place on Wednesday, over 150 km from Chennai, after he allegedly flashed a woman working in the field. However, the victim’s family said he was targeted for defecating on private farmland.
The police had found him tied up and bleeding from the mouth. According to an NDTV report, when the police alerted Sakthivel’s family, they refused to take him to the hospital and instead took him home, where he later died of his injuries.
The victim’s sister, Theivanai, had told the local reporters that he had an upset stomach, and he had to stop to relieve himself on the fields as his bike has run out of fuel. She alleged that he was attacked because he was a Dalit.
The state government has given a compensation of around ₹4 lakh to Sakthivel’s family. Seven people, including four men and three women, have been charged under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, along with IPC Section 302 (punishment for murder). Those who have been arrested belong to the dominant Vanniyar community and have been known to be hostile towards the Dalit community.
Lalitha, the coordinator of Villupuram-based NGO, Social Awareness Society for Youths, told The News Minute, “The police should have immediately dispersed the group assuring action. The group had assaulted him in front of the police. He may have survived had he been admitted to the hospital on time.”
However, a senior police officer, Jayakumar told NDTV, “It appears the mob had no idea about his caste when they attacked him. We are investigating. The other party had first given a complaint against him.” The police officer also added that he had earlier faced charges for allegedly raping a minor girl but was later acquitted after a settlement with her family.
This is not the first such incident of mob violence, and discrimination on the basis of color, caste, religion, and gender is common, despite being illegal.