Three Dalit youths and a Maratha man were tied upside down from a tree and assaulted in a village in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district on suspicion of stealing goats and pigeons.
The incident took place on August 25 when six men took the victims from their homes, a police inspector told Scroll. Two of the victims are minors.
The youths were taken to a farm where their shirts were removed and their hands and legs were tied by the accused, the Ahmednagar Police said in a statement, reported The Indian Express. They were then tied upside down from a tree and assaulted.
Videos shared on social media of the purported incident showed the youths pleading with the accused to let them go.
The four youths were later rescued by villagers, who took them to a hospital. The accused men have been identified as Yuvraj Galande, Manoj Bodake, Pappu Parkhe, Deepak Gaikwad, Durgesh Vaidya and Raju Borage, reported PTI.
Dalit activist and president of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, Prakash Ambedkar shared the video on X, previously known as Twitter, and described it as a “caste atrocity”.
“It is absolutely unquestionable that this incident is a caste atrocity and it was because of the caste system that the Dalit boys were treated so brutally,” he said in a tweet. “Would anybody else have been beaten similarly on suspicions of theft? No!”
According to Ambedkar, one of the victims he spoke to told him that he was “thrashed, urinated upon, spitted on, forced to lick his own spit” as well.
A first information report was filed based on the complaint of one of the victims, Shubham Magade, reported PTI.
The accused have been booked under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act as well as sections on attempt to murder, kidnapping, wrongful restraint, and rioting under the Indian Penal Code, reported The Indian Express.
“We have arrested two persons in the case and further investigation is on,” Superintendent of Police, Ahmednagar, Rakesh Ola, told the newspaper.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar assured that strict action would be taken against the accused. He added that no one has the right to take the law into their own hands, reported PTI.