A 20-year-old dalit youth of Mota Kothasana village of Mehsana district in Gujarat was forced to shave off his moustache and later thrashed by men belonging to the Darbar community on December 7.
Sanjaybhai Ranchodbhai Parmar, the victim, had to be hospitalised after he was thrashed by six men of the same village who were arrested on December 8. Reportedly, after watching a video on Tik-tok (a popular video sharing platform) shot by Parmar where he is seen twirling his moustache, the accused confronted him and threatened him to shave off his moustache. Parmar readily agreed to their demand to avoid conflict. However, the six men thrashed him later and hurled casteist abuses at him.
As per the FIR, “Sanjay (the victim) was at home when Sanjaysinh and Rajdeepsinh (two of the six accused) called him and took him on a motorcycle to a health sub-station where four others were already waiting. The accused issued death threats, hurled casteist abuse and asked the victim if he wants to become a ‘bapu’ (a word used to address a man belonging to Darbar/Kshatriya caste) and that he has no right to sport a moustache.”
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“Sanjay (the victim) had recorded a video on Tik-tok on a popular song following which some men came to our house and threatened him to remove the moustache. I met them and assured them he (Sanjay) will shave off his moustache as we did not want trouble. Sanjay did as asked yet they thrashed him. Later, they (the accused) posted a video online on how they forced a dalit to shave off his moustache. The video of my son apologising has gone viral,” Ranchod Parmar, father of Sanjay Parmar told NewsClick.
After the FIR was registered, the accused fled from the village and were hiding in a cave in the hilly terrains of Mehsana district. The police arrested Sanjaysinh Chauhan, Santramsinh Chauhan, Rajdeepsinh Chahuhan, Jayendrasinh Chauhan, Rajpalsinh Chauhan and Swarajsinh Chauhan in the wee hours of December 8.
The accused have been booked under various sections of the IPC for criminal intimidation, illegal assembly and assault, under section 67 of the Information &Technology Act and under several sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Noticeably, this isn’t the first time a dalit has been thrashed or threatened for sporting a moustache in Gujarat. In February this year, a dalit youth’s moustache was forcefully shaved off by members of Thakor community in Idar taluka of Sabarkantha district.
In June 2018, another 23-year-old youth belonging to an OBC community from Banaskantha district was forced to shave off his moustache by two men belonging to the Darbar caste after he distributed invitation cards for a religious ceremony with ‘Sinh’ (name used by upper castes) added to his name.
Earlier in September 2017, a dalit youth from Limbodra, Kalol taluka of Gandhinagar district was thrashed brutally for sporting a moustache. The attack on the youth had triggered an online protest by dalits across Gujarat where they posted photos of themselves sporting and twirling moustaches with hashtags like #RightToMoustache and #MoochToRakhenge.
Also read: Atrocities Against dalits Continue Unabated in Gujarat