DW BUREAU / CHANDIGARH
A 37-year-old Dalit man, who was mercilessly thrashed and forced to drink urine in Punjab’s Sangrur district early this month, succumbed to injuries early Saturday morning at a hospital here, police said.
The opposition parties attacked the Congress-led Punjab government over the “barbaric treatment” being meted out to Dalits in the state.
“The victim succumbed to injuries at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER),” Sangrur Senior Superintendent of Police (SP) Sandeep Garg said.
The doctors had amputated his legs due to infection, a police official said.
On October 21, the victim, who was a resident of Changaliwala village, got into an altercation with one Rinku and some other persons over some issue. The matter was resolved with the intervention of villagers, the police said.
The victim had told police that on November 7, Rinku had called him to his house where the two talked about the issue.
He had alleged that he was then thrashed by four persons with a stick and an iron rod after being tied to a pillar and was forced to drink urine when he asked for water.
Four persons — Rinku, Amarjit, Yadwinder and Binder — were arrested on charges of abduction, wrongful confinement, and under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act at the Lehra police station in Sangrur, the police said.
After the victim died on Saturday, section 302 (murder) of the IPC was also added to the FIR, SP Garg said.
According to police, the accused persons had claimed that the victim had been abusing them.
The deceased’s family members on Saturday said the accused beat him up because they had a grudge against him.
The victim’s kin demanded a compensation of Rs 25 lakh and a government job for one of the family members. They refused to accept the body and allow the post-mortem till their demands were met, the police said.
Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) targeted the Congress-led state government over the incident, saying a “rule of jungle” was prevalent in the state.
Hitting out at the Congress regime for its alleged failure to stop such incidents, senior BJP leader Tarun Chugh claimed that Dalits were not feeling secure under the current dispensation.
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said “barbaric treatment” was being meted out to Dalits under the Congress rule.
He alleged that the “rule of jungle” was prevailing in Punjab under the leadership of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and there was no governance.
Badal said it was condemnable that the chief minister had proceeded on a 14-day holiday to Europe at a time when “all sections of the society were suffering”.
“This apathy towards the people is shocking,” the SAD president said.
Badal said the government had “failed” to take prompt action against the Dalit man’s tormentors and alleged that the victim was not provided prompt medical attention.
This, he claimed in a statement, was a result of the chief minister’s complete lack of interest in the affairs of the state.
He also demanded that adequate compensation and a government job be given to one of the victim’s family members.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said strict punishment would be given to those involved in this incident.
The Punjab State Scheduled Castes Commission has also sought a report from the Sangrur SP over the incident.
The commission’s chairperson, Tejinder Kaur, had on Friday said the rights body had learnt about the incident through media reports and it had taken suo motu cognisance of the matter.