The police of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday arrested 16 youths for allegedly attacking a group of Dalit men in Azamgarh district, The Indian Express reported. As many as twelve Dalit men were injured in the attack. Chief Minister Adityanath said the National Security Act will be invoked against the accused.

Under the National Security Act, a person can be detained for months if the authorities feel that the individual is a threat to national security, law and order. The government can also withhold information which it considers to be against public interest to disclose when providing the grounds for an arrest.

The incident occured in the Sikandarpur Aima village of the district on Wednesday. A group of men reportedly attacked some Dalit members of the village after they accused the men of harassing girls from their community, Superintendent of Police of Azamgarh, Triveni Singh told the newspaper.

The accused used to sit at a tube well in the village and pass objectionable remarks at young Dalit girls passing through the area on their way to school, he added. On Wednesday, an altercation took place after some people from the Dalit community objected to this. A few minutes later, a group of men reportedly assembled near the Dalit locality and started attacking people. They allegedly pelted stones at women.

A 22-year-old man, identified as Sudhir, suffered an injury caused by a sharp-edged weapon. Eleven others were injured after being attacked with sticks and stones. No casualties were reported.

Singh said Maharajganj Station House Officer Arvind Pandey, under whose jurisdiction the attack took place, has been suspended on charges of negligence. The police have also announced a reward of Rs 25,000 for information leading to the capture of three other accused who are currently absconding.

Meanwhile, Additional Superintendent of Police Narendra Pratap Singh said the 16 accused, one of whom is a minor, would be produced in a court on Saturday.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati lauded the Adityanath-led government for initiating action against the accused and said it is “better late than never”. “This is good,” she tweeted. “But it would be better, if similar action was initiated in cases pertaining to sisters and daughters in the future as well. The molestation of any Dalit girl or those from any other religion and caste, be it from Azamgarh, Kanpur or any other district, must be condemned.”