It's 2018 And Dalits Are Still Thrashed For Wearing Mojdis & Swimming In Ponds

"You want to be a Darbar?" asked one of the assailants as he proceeded to beat the boy when he claimed to be upper caste

Amid a string of incidents highlighting Dalit atrocity across the nation, a 13-year-old Dalit boy in Gujarat was recently thrashed by four Rajput men. His crime? He was spotted wearing a ‘mojdi‘, an ethnic leather footwear worn by upper caste men in the state.

The incident, which came to light after a video went viral, took place on Wednesday evening in Becharaji, Mehsana district, nearly 20 km away from the boy’s home in Vitthalpur village in Ahmedabad district. He had travelled the distance only to get a haircut, as barbers in Vitthalpur do not cut the hair of Dalits.

In the video, the assailants can be seen punching and thrashing the boy with sticks as he pleads for mercy, vowing to pose as a Rajput again. “You want to be a Darbar?” asked one of the assailants as he proceeded to beat the boy when he claimed to be upper caste. The assailants also threatened to share the video in Vitthalpur to send a message

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“When I was sitting near the bus stop, a group of youths came to me and asked me my caste. When I said that I am a Dalit, they asked me why I was wearing mojdi despite being a Dalit. When I tried to save myself by claiming that I am a Rajput, they forcibly took me to a place and thrashed me,” the boy said in his complaint. “They slapped and punched me and beat me with a stick. They accused me of trying to be a Rajput by wearing such shoes. I somehow managed to escape and came home.”

“It is alleged that these four Rajput youth, including one Bharatsinh Darbar, thrashed the victim for wearing a mojdi. We have booked them on charges of kidnapping, assault as well as under relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,” Mr Solanki informed. Another accused has been identified as one Jaydip Darbar, while the names of two other accused, who were minors, have been withheld, Ahmedabad Mirror reported.

As per the Mirror report, Rajput leaders also pressured the boy’s family into not filing a complaint. While the boy’s father agreed at first, the incident came to notice when the videos went viral. An FIR was finally registered against the four men based on the complaint, said Bahucharaji police Sub Inspector R R Solanki.

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Meanwhile, In Maharashtra

This comes a few days after three minor Dalit boys were beaten, stripped and paraded nude in a village in Maharashtra for swimming in a village well. The incident, which took place in Vakadi village on June 10, came to light after a video showing the boys being paraded in the streets went viral.

On June 10, the three boys, aged 12-14, dove into the village well to cool down in the scorching heat. When the villagers received word of this, they dragged the boys out of the well, hurling abuses and thrashing them. Some of the villagers stripped the boys and paraded them around the village. A complaint was lodged with the local police and two persons have been arrested in connection with the case so far, said State Social Justice Minister Dilip Kamble.

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Gujarat’s Dalit Problem

In another incident from Gujarat, a Dalit youth was assaulted by six members of the upper caste over adding the suffix ‘Sinh’ to his name in Dholka, Ahmedabad district on May 22. The youth had allegedly been receiving threats from members of the Darbar community ever since he added ‘Sinh’ to his name on social media.

The atrocities have been so grave in the state, in April, around 300 Dalits converted to Buddhism in Una, including the persons who were assaulted in the July 2016 Dalit flogging incident.

Apathy Towards Dalit Minors

Earlier that month, after several Dalit groups announced a Bharat Bandh in protest of the dilution of the SC/ST Atrocities Act, violent clashes broke out across states. In Uttar Pradesh, however, police officials “randomly” picked up minors belonging to the Dalit community, slapping them with an array of charges, The Wire reported.

In Meerut, 12-year-old Abhishek Jatav was among the minors who were locked-up by the police. According to The Quint, Abhishek was charged under Sections 147 (rioting), 148 (armed with deadly weapon), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 395 (dacoity), 307 (attempt to murder), act endangering safety of others (336) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 7 of the Criminal Law (Amendment Act) and others. While in the juvenile home, Abhishek was bullied by adults and was made to sweep floors and clean the toilets. The case will now be moved to trial.

(With Agency Inputs)