Two Dalit youths were allegedly thrashed for “sporting a moustache” in a Gujarat village by some Rajputs who saw such facial hair as a symbol of pride exclusive to the upper castes, The Telegraph reported today.
The assaults on September 25 and September 29 occurred in the same village, Limbodara in the Kalol area of Gandhinagar, and came over a year after some Dalits were flogged publicly by cow vigilantes for skinning dead cows in Una, around 350km away, the report said. Gujarat votes this year-end and the ruling BJP has been battling accusations that atrocities on Dalits have increased during its reign, the report claimed.
Law student Krunal Maheria, 30, assaulted when he was visiting a friend in the village on September 29, was allegedly warned by his tormentors he “cannot become a Rajput by just sporting a moustache”, the report said.
In his police complaint, Maheria has identified the main attacker as one Bharatsinh Vaghela, the report added.
“When I was visiting my friend on Friday night, Vaghela and some others intercepted me and abused me. Vaghela told me I cannot become a Rajput by just sporting a moustache. When I ignored him, Vaghela beat me up with a stick,” Maheria said today after returning home following treatment in the Gandhinagar civil hospital, the report quoted the victim as saying.
Vaghela was arrested today and has been booked for voluntarily causing hurt under the IPC and for offences under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, a police officer said. “A cross-complaint (by Vaghela) was also registered against Maheria” the officer told the newspaper.
In the other incident on September 25, some Rajputs allegedly thrashed Piyush Parmar, 24, the report said.
“Parmar has alleged that some Rajput men from the village beat him up when he was returning home after a garba programme. He has alleged that the upper-caste men thrashed him over his moustache. No arrests have been made yet in that case,” the officer was quoted in the report as saying.
After the Una floggings of July last year sparked a national outcry, some policemen were arrested for failing to stop the crime and conniving with the perpetrators.