A barber in Mysuru, Karnataka, has alleged that members of upper caste communities in his village had ostracised him for cutting the hair of people belonging to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Communities, The News Minute reported on Thursday.
Mallikarjun Shetty, a resident of Hallara village in Nanjangud, told the news website that members of the Nayak community socially boycotted him and demanded that he pay a fine of Rs 50,000 for giving haircuts to Dalits.
On Thursday, he submitted a written complaint to the Nanjangud Tahsildar Mahesh Kumar, seeking intervention. Kumar said that he would visit the village and probe the matter personally. “If there is any evidence of any atrocity committed, I will ask the police to take suo motu cognisance and register an first information report,” he added.
Trouble began three months ago, when a man named Mahadeva Nayak and his aides went to Shetty’s salon and protested against him cutting the hair of members of lower castes. Nayak also ordered him to charge rates as high as Rs 200 and Rs 300 from them. “I told them that I can’t charge more than Rs 80 and Rs 60 for a haircut and shave, as I wanted to keep prices equal for all,” Shetty said.
Shetty said that he went to the police, who then visited their village and issued a warning to Nayak and his men. However, matters only became worse because of the police action, he said.
Nayak and his henchmen allegedly started to ask villagers to boycott Shetty. They also took Shetty’s 21-year-old son to their residence and allegedly forced him to drink alcohol. “When he was drunk, they stripped him naked and shot a video of it,” Shetty alleged.
When he decided to go to the police, Nayak allegedly threatened that he would share his son’s video on social media. The barber said he decided against filing a complaint at that time as he was too afraid of the consequences.
The Nanjangud Rural Police said that Shetty sought their intervention to end the social boycott but did not want to file a case but sought relief from his current situation. “Later Mahadeva Nayak showed us the video of Mallikarjun’ [Shetty]’s son,” an official told The News Minute. “We counselled both of them and sent them back as Mallikarjun did not file a complaint.”
But the barber alleged police inaction. “The social boycott has continued,” he said. “I have been seeking help from the Nanjangud tahsildar so many times but he doesn’t care so I decided to speak to the press.”