In a brutal attack with sticks and daggers, a group of men killed a Dalit youth named Akshay Bhalerao on Thursday, 1 June in Bondhar Haveli village in Maharashtra's Nanded district.
A First Information Report was filed in the incident at the Nanded Rural police station on the complaint of Akshay's elder brother Akash.
When Akshay and Akash had gone to a grocery store in the village in the evening, a group of men charged at Akshay hurling casteist abuses, the complaint notes. The men were part of a wedding procession (baraat) of a Maratha bridegroom that was passing through the main road. Along with shouting and dancing on DJ music, some of the men in the baraat were also brandishing swords, sticks and daggers, the FIR states.
According to the FIR, one of the accused, when he spotted Akshay and Akash at the grocery store, started hurling casteist abuses at them and yelled, "These two must be killed, you dare to celebrate Bhim Jayanti?"
After this, the group started kicking and punching Akshay and beating him with sticks. Later, one of them repeatedly attacked him with a dagger as others held his hands and legs, leading to his instant death, the complaint states.
They later beat Akash too as well as their mother who had reached the spot after hearing about the incident. They have sustained injuries.
The police have registered a case under sections 3(1)(r), 3(1)(s) and 3(2)(va) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and sections 143, 147, 148, 149, 302, 307, 324, 323, 294, and 504 of the Indian Penal Code, and sections 4, 25 and 27 of the Arms Act.
The FIR names Santosh Tidke, Datta Tidke, Krishna Tidke, Nilkanth Tidke, Narayan Tidke, Shivaji Tidke, Mahadu Tidke, Baburao Tidke and Balaji Mungal as the accused. The police has made seven arrests in the case.
Rahul Pradhan, president of Yuva Panther, alleged that the Bondhar village is notorious for crimes against the Buddhist residents. He told The Quint that the Buddhist community in the village has not been able to take out a procession on Ambedkar Jayanti for the last 40-45 years due to the opposition from the dominant Maratha community.
The Bondhar Haveli village has more than 30% Scheduled Castes population.
Pradhan, who had reached the village immediately after he received calls about the attack, alleged that the Marathas were angry that the Buddhists had celebrated Ambedkar Jayanti this year. Akshay was at the forefront of the Bhim Jayanti arrangements and that's why he was targetted, he claimed.