One Held for Assaulting, Forcing Dalit Man to Lick Slippers in UP's Sonbhadra: Police
Image for representational purpose. Credit: PTI
Sonbhadra: A contractual employee of the electricity department has been arrested in this Uttar Pradesh district for allegedly beating up a Dalit man and forcing him to lick his slippers, police said on Sunday.
A video purportedly of the incident had gone viral on social media, they said, adding that the accused has been "terminated from the service".
The incident snowballed into a political slugfest, with opposition parties slamming the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh.
Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav said the incident is no less shameful than the one reported from Sidhi district in Madhya Pradesh, while Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh claimed that under the BJP's rule, Dalits are not even considered as human beings.
The Congress described the incident as a "despicable act", while the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) accused the BJP of insulting Dalits.
In his complaint submitted to police on July 8, Rajendra Chamar, the Dalit man, said he belongs to the Scheduled Castes (SC) category.
"On July 6, he had gone to his maternal uncle's place where the electricity supply was disrupted. He was trying to locate the fault when the contractual employee of the power department, Tejbali Singh Patel, started hurling abuses at him.
"He hurled casteist words at the complainant and also made him lick his chappal. Subsequently, the locals intervened," a police officer said.
Based on the complaint, a case was registered against Patel under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, Circle Officer Amit Kumar said, adding that the accused has been arrested.
In the video, the accused is also seen twisting one arm of the complainant, pushing him onto the ground, climbing up on his chest and slapping him. He is also seen forcing the complainant to lick his slippers.
In a tweet on Saturday night, the Uttar Pradesh Police said, "DGP UP has taken cognizance of the incident and directed the DIG range to visit the scene of the crime. An FIR has been registered under the SC/ST Act, and the accused has been promptly arrested. The DGP has given directions for the strictest legal action against the accused."
On Sunday, the state police wrote on Twitter: "Update - Due to the swift action taken by @sonbhadrapolice, Tejbali Singh Patel, the arrested accused, has been terminated from service by the electricity department."
Singh took a jibe at the BJP over the issue.
In a tweet in Hindi, the Rajya Sabha MP said, "This is Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh. A devil is making a Dalit man lick his slippers. In your (BJP's) rule, Dalits are not even considered human beings, how do you talk about uniform civil laws?"
Meanwhile, AAP leader from Uttar Pradesh Shekhar Dixit said a party delegation will soon visit Sonbhadra and meet the Dalit man.
Yadav, in a tweet in Hindi, said, "The incident that took place in Sonbhadra is no less shameful than the one of Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh, where a Dalit man was made to lick slippers. Why does the bulldozer become punctured on seeing such guilty people? Let us see till when the drama of 'charan-vandan' (worshipping the feet) of this aggrieved person is enacted. The BJP people are creating a black history of Dalit oppression."
RLD spokesperson Ankur Saxena told PTI, "Through such videos, one gets new ideas about the 'Ramrajya' of the BJP government, in which Dalits and oppressed people are continuously insulted in this manner. The ruling party, which is in election mode throughout the year, does not see the atrocities being committed on the members of the SC-ST communities."
"At this point in time, the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh has become an anarchic state and the only option here is the imposition of President's rule," Saxena said.
Uttar Pradesh Congress spokesperson Vikas Srivastava described the incident as a "despicable act".
"It is clear that the BJP will end the constitutional rights and reservation of Dalits and backward people. The BJP always wants to keep Dalits and backward people oppressed by creating an environment of fear through such acts," he told PTI.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.