Police in Deoband town of Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh have booked seven people for allegedly forcing a Dalit man to shave off his moustache, the Hindustan Times reported on Saturday. The accused include six upper caste men who assaulted the complainant and the barber who shaved his moustache.
Crimes like forcing Dalits to shave off their moustaches or assaulting them for riding a horse are common acts of showing off caste supremacy.
In his complaint, the victim, Rajat, alleged that the incident took place on Monday in Shimlana village. According to the First Information Report in the case, the accused intimidated Rajat with sharp weapons and forced him to go the barber’s shop, The Indian Express reported. The accused allegedly told him that a moustache was a symbol of pride for Thakurs (one of the upper castes according to the Hindu community) and only they were allowed to keep one.
Rajat identifed the six upper caste men as Neeraj Rana, Satyam Rana, Mokam Rana, Rupantu Rana, Monty Rana and Sandeep Rana. The barber has been identified as Rajendra.
Rajneesh Kumar, a circle officer of Deoband Police, confirmed that an FIR has been registered in the matter. “As part of surveillance, we are tracking their cellphones and will soon have leads,” he told The Indian Express. “We have apprehended the barber in whose shop the incident took place.”
The barber told the police that he was unaware of the intentions of the other accused and did what he was asked to do.
Police have also obtained an audio clip, allegedly from a few weeks ago, where the accused persons and Rajat can be heard arguing and exchanging casteist slurs.
The FIR has been filed under sections 147 (rioting), 323 (punishment for causing hurt) and 504 (intentional insult) of the Indian Penal Code as well as relevant sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.