dalit harassed
Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: On Monday, Twitter users in India shared a viral video, which shows a man being stripped and assaulted, by a group of 13 youngsters in the Indian state of Karnataka. His crime? Apparently, the 32-year-old victim belonged to the Dalit community (the lowest rung in India’s outlawed caste system), and had touched a motorbike that belonged to someone from “an upper caste”. Twitter users in India are appalled at this “case of caste-based violence” and the prevalence of the system even in the 21st century.

According to Indian media reports, the Superintendent of Police of Vijayapura district, Anupam Agarwal, said: "Though Kashinath Talwar (the victim), claimed that he touched the bike by mistake, and pleaded for mercy, he said the accused severely thrashed him with sticks and footwear, and took off his pants while he lay on the road, helplessly.”

The victim's parents tried to save him, but that did not stop the perpetrators from continuing the assault. Talwar's father, Yankappa, also alleged that he, his wife and their daughter were also attacked by the accused when they tried to rescue their son from being brutally assaulted.

Sharing photos of the violence, Twitter user @ShafeerYahya posted: “Caste-based violence is a disgusting daily reality faced by #Dalits. #Casteism real threats to Indian society. #Untouchability #Shame”

India banned caste-based discrimination in 1955. Article 15 of the Constitution of India prohibits discrimination based on caste, and Article 17 declared the practice of untouchability to be illegal. But, this law doesn't deter those who adamantly continue to follow the system. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) notes that India's caste system is perhaps the world's longest surviving social hierarchy.

The police official added: “Based on a complaint by the Dalit victim, we have booked the 13 accused, and we are investigating the incident, which occurred at Minajgi village on July 18.”

The police filed an FIR or First Information Report naming 13 men from an upper caste under IPC (Indian Penal Code) sections 143 for unlawful assembly, 147 for rioting, 323 for voluntarily causing hurt, 354 for outraging the modesty of a woman, 504 for intentional insult with an intent for breach of peace, 506 for criminal intimidation and under relevant sections of The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act).

Complaint filed against the victim later

In a related development, three women in the village later filed a police complaint against Talwar, who is a daily wage worker in the village, for allegedly eve-teasing and harassing them, according to Indian news reports.

The police said: "We have summoned Talwar to inquire about his conduct as the women alleged that he teased them, touched them inappropriately, and exposed his private parts while they were washing clothes outside their houses."

It was not immediately known if the police have yet filed an FIR in the counter-complaint.