Two police personnel were suspended in East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh, for allegedly beating up and tonsuring a Dalit man in a police station on Sunday night, the Hindustan Times reported. The constable and the sub-inspector had allegedly attacked the Dalit youth for confronting a local YSR Congress Party leader.

The incident took place at the Seethanagaram Police Station. The man, identified as I Vara Prasad from Vedullapalli village, has been admitted to Rajahmundry Government Hospital.

Prasad said he and some others had stopped the movement of sand trucks passing through the lane outside his home, because there had been a death in the area. He asked the truck drivers to wait till the body was removed from the area for last rites.

“A local YSR Congress leader came there and questioned us for stopping the sand trucks,” Prasad alleged. “This led to an argument. On Monday morning, Seethanagaram sub-inspector police Shaik Feroze Shah, along with two other constables, came to the village and took me and two others to the police station in the name of investigation.”

At the police station, Prasad alleged that he was severely beaten with a belt, and kicked around. Prasad also alleged that Shah later called a barber, who tonsured his head and also shaved off his moustache.

After protests by local Dalit organisations, Deputy Superintendent of Police PSN Rao conducted an inquiry into the incident, which led to the suspensions. Eluru Range Deputy Inspector General of Police KV Mohan Rao said that a case has been registered against the three policemen under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, as well as the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Atrocities (Prevention) Act.

“We regret the incident of humiliating a Dalit youth by the Seethanagaram police,” KV Mohan Rao said. “We shall take stringent action against the accused police and ensure that such incidents do not recur.”

Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police Gautam Sawang has instituted a comprehensive probe.

‘Jungle Raj has returned’: Chandrababu Naidu

Meanwhile, Telugu Desam Party chief and former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu criticised the YS Jaganmohan Reddy dispensation, alleging that “jungle raj” had returned to the state following the Assembly elections last year, which Reddy won.

“His [the Dalit man’s] only mistake was to question the illegal sand mining in the region,” Naidu told reporters. “What is happening to the policemen? Why have they become toys in the hands of the corrupt ruling party men? This is a serious violation of rights.”