A Bharatiya Janata Party leader, who allegedly caned two Dalit men and forced them to take a dip in dirty waters for questioning his illegal mining of gravel, was booked by the police in Telangana’s Nizamabad, officials said on Monday.
The incident happened at Abhangapatnam village of Navipet block in September but was highlighted on Sunday after a video clip of the incident went viral on various social media groups in the state.
The police filed a case against M Bharat Reddy, BJP’s former district general secretary, following a complaint from a local Dalit leader Manikolla Gangadhar representing Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi (MRPS), an organisation that fights for categorisation of reservations for the Scheduled Castes, under the SC/ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act.
“Reddy is absconding. We will arrest him, once we track him down,” Nizamabad (rural) circle inspector of police N Buchaiah told the Hindustan Times.
Buchaiah said it was not exactly clear when the incident had happened as the victims had not come forward to lodge a complaint fearing a threat from the BJP leader.
The Dalits sit at the bottom of the Hindu caste system in India and complaints of discrimination and slight against them are still widespread. India banned caste-based discrimination in 1955 but Dalits continue to suffer routine violence and discrimination.
According to the complaint, Reddy “punished” the two Dalits – Kondra Lakshman and Rajeshwar – from Abhangapatnam village as they questioned quarrying of gravel from the nearby fields at Errakunta pond without a permit from the government.
The clip shows an angry Reddy caning the two men with a stick and hurling abuses. He does not heed to their pleas begging for mercy and forces them to enter a muddy pool on the roadside. When one of them tries to tell him what he was doing was wrong as he did not have permission, the BJP leader scolds him and threatens to beat him up.
The video clip shows an angry Reddy caning the two men with a stick and hurling abuses. (Screenshot from video)
The incident was recorded on a mobile phone by one of his followers and Reddy himself was seen shooting the Dalits taking a dip in the dirty waters.
The inspector said the video clip clearly showed the BJP leader intimidating the men.
“We are investigating into the matter and take appropriate action based on the evidence,” he said.