A 21-year-old Dalit man was allegedly beaten to death by upper-caste men for having his dinner while sitting on a chair in front of them at a wedding in Shrikot area of Tehri Garhwal district.
The incident happened on the night of April 26. The next day when the young man fell ill, he was taken for treatment to a Dehradun-based hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries on Sunday afternoon, police said.
According to the police, the deceased was identified as one Jitendra Das, a resident of Baasan village in Tehri Garhwal. A case was already registered on April 29 against seven accused, also residents of the same area, after his sister lodged a complaint against them.
Das used to work as a carpenter and was the sole bread-earner of his family comprising of his mother, elder sister and a younger brother, his relatives who were present in Dehradun on Sunday said.
Narrating the harrowing incident, Das’s uncle, Elam Das, said, “On that night, we had all gone to attend the wedding of one of our distant relatives in Shrike. Jitendra alone had gone to have his dinner while we were on the other side of the venue.”
“After having our dinner, we all returned to our homes separately. We got to know about the incident the next morning when he was found unconscious by his mother and rushed to a nearby hospital,” he added.
Later, one of Jitendra’s friends, who tried to save him from the accused, told them that he was thrashed at the wedding venue as well as on his way home.
“He told us that on the wedding night, he was having dinner while sitting on a chair before the accused upper-caste men. Seeing him sitting on a chair, they got enraged and kicked his plate before kicking him off the chair using caste-based expletives for daring to sit in front of them,” he said.
“They then assaulted him after which he left the venue for home. However, they didn’t end the matter there and followed him to brutally assault him again,” he added.
Jitendra’s cousin brother, Pritam Das, who was also present at the wedding, too confirmed the incident and said, “He was hit on his head and private body parts.”
“He was so badly beaten that he barely managed to reach his house but couldn’t enter it. He slept on the verandah without telling his family members about the incident.
Next day in the morning, when his mother went to wake him and found him unconscious, they got to know about it,” he added.
Jitendra was rushed to a nearby hospital which referred them to Dehradun.
“He was admitted in a Dehradun hospital a few days back. His sister finally lodged a complaint against seven accused identified as Gajendra, Soban, Kushal, Gabbar, Gambhir, Harbir Singh, and Hukam Singh. A case was registered against them in Kempty police station but none of them have been arrested so far,” said Pritam.
He also claimed that the “accused are freely moving about in the village and pressurizing them to arrive at a compromise”.
“We want all of them to be nabbed and given the strongest possible punishment,” he added.
Circle officer, Narendra Nagar, Uttam Singh, who is investigating the case said, “The police after registering the case under relevant sections of IPC and SC/ST Atrocities Act, started investigations.”
“During the investigations, we tried to find any eyewitness but none came forward. The sole eye-witness seems to be the deceased himself. After his death on Sunday, the accused would now be also be booked under murder charges,” he said.
“Further action will be taken after his post-mortem examination report is received,” he added.
Director General, Law, and Order, Ashok Kumar while calling the incident a serious one, said, “A case has already been registered. No accused would be spared and strict action would be taken against them.”