India: Uttarakhand: Dalit man dies after upper-caste men beat him for sitting and eating in front of them

He died, while undergoing treatment at a Dehradun hospital, nine days after the incident.

Uttarakhand: Dalit man dies after upper-caste men beat him for sitting and eating in front of them
Relatives of Jitendra Das with police officials at Dehradun’s Coronation Hospital where his post-mortem examination was conducted. | HT Photo

A Dalit youth died on Sunday, days after he was allegedly beaten up by a group of men from an upper-caste community in Tehri district of Uttarakhand, PTI reported. The 23-year-old was assaulted on April 26, purportedly for sitting on a chair and eating in front of the upper-caste group at a wedding reception.

Jitendra Das succumbed to his injuries while undergoing treatment at a Dehradun hospital.

On April 29, the man’s sister filed a complaint against a group of seven men. The accused have been identified as Gajendra Singh, Soban Singh, Kushal Singh, Gabbar Singh, Gambhir Singh, Harbir Singh and Hukum Singh. A case was filed against them under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

After his death, his relatives and villagers staged a protest outside the Coronation Hospital in Dehradun where his body was taken for a postmortem examination, The Times of India reported.

His sister Pooja Das told The Times of India that the incident occurred at her cousin’s wedding. “My brother made the mistake that he took food from the same counter from where upper-caste people were eating,” she said. “He then sat on a chair next to them. They said that this lower-caste [person] cannot sit and eat along with us.”

She claimed that the accused were threatening the family to withdraw the case.

Sandeep Khanna, a panchayat member who accompanied the family to Dehradun, told the daily that the police took a very long time to register the case and had failed to make an arrest. “They deployed such a large number of police to stop us but they have failed to arrest a single accused,” Khanna said.

Narendra Nagar Circle Officer Uttam Singh said that they could not find any eyewitnesses in the case, Hindustan Times reported. “Further action will be taken after his post-mortem examination report is received,” the circle officer said.

Director General (Law and Order) Ashok Kumar said strict action will be taken against the accused.

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