A simple day that began with daily chores, ended up being the most distressing. Do we worry about overtaking the wrong vehicle?
Uday Kiran, a Dalit, was allegedly beaten by caste Hindu men for having overtaken their vehicle in Kolar, Karnataka. Later that night, on 30 November, he died by suicide.
“Uday Kiran was like a son to me,” said BH Nagaraju, gram panchayat member of Bevahalli village in Mulbagal town of Kolar district, while speaking exclusively to The Quint.
The 22-year-old man decided to stay with his maternal uncle, 110 km away from Bengaluru, after completing his Second PUC (Class XII).
“He was still undecided on what career to choose. So, I thought I’ll have Uday by my side to help me for a while with farming and more,” Nagaraju added.
While Uday’s older brother Pawan Kalyan was working with a cab service in Bengaluru, their parents found it best to send Uday to Nagaraju, who was finding it difficult to balance work and home, thanks to three little children.
Uday’s Brief Stay With An Uncle
“Uday’s parents thought it best to send him to me since I have three little children - one studying in class 7, another in class 6 and the third in class 3,” explained Nagaraju.
Uday began helping his uncle with farming and would often be sent to the nearest village or town to buy things for the home as well as the land.
A soft-spoken Uday gradually found a home in not just Nagaraju’s heart, but his family’s too.
“He used to play with my children. He would often buy them something to eat and would have fun,” recollected Nagaraju. According to the family, Uday was a workaholic. He wasn't the type to spend time watching movies.
The Day of The Incident
On 30 November 2022, Nagaraju sent Uday to buy some groceries from Byrakur, three km from the village. They belong to the Adi Karnataka caste, categorised as Scheduled Caste (SC).
The Nangali Police mentioned that Uday allegedly overtook one of the three motorcycles being ridden by Raju, Shivaraj, Gopalakrishnappa, and Munivenkatappa, all reportedly belonging to the Vokkaliga caste.
This was at around 4 pm. The incident triggered an altercation between the two parties, which was settled soon after the intervention of villagers, who were present at the spot.
Police sources confirmed that he was with another friend when he left. The cops also said that he took Nagaraju’s two-wheeler - KA 07 Q 573.
As per the FIR that has been accessed by The Quint, the accused persons stopped Uday on his return, harassed him, and confiscated his mobile phone as well as the two-wheeler.
They allegedly asked Uday to bring elders from his village and then take back his vehicle and phone.
“The two of them (Uday and his friend) literally ran for their lives and reached our village. But, he was hesitant to inform me. I think he was feeling miserable that he was responsible for my two-wheeler being confiscated,” whimpered Nagaraju, adding that he felt miserable for not having contacted Uday then.
Nagaraju claimed that Uday took another vehicle of his – Tata Ace – and drove straight to Petthandlahalli, where the accused persons were lodged, in an attempt to convince them to return the two-wheeler. Things turned uglier for Uday.
“I soon got a call at around 6.30 pm from a person of that village, who told me that Uday has been tied up to a tree and is being physically assaulted,” recounted Nagaraju.
He further said that he tried reaching Uday on the mobile phone, but couldn’t reach him since the latter’s phone was in the hands of the accused.
When Nagaraju landed there, he saw the perpetrators beating Uday up in front of his eyes.
“I immediately intervened and questioned what wrong did he do. Did he commit a murder? Did he steal anything?” cried the uncle, helpless all the while.
There was a wedding that was underway close to where the alleged assault was taking place, he described, “The number of people attending the marriage were also crowding the place, watching the incident. I think this hurt Uday a lot. In fact, when I walked up to him, he refused to make eye contact with me.”
The FIR claims that the accused abused Uday physically and verbally, using casteist slurs.
Nagaraju and the rest successfully talked their way in and escorted Uday back home. “His face was bruised. I advised him to eat and rest well once we got home,” he informed.
Around 10 pm, Uday left home with another villager named Subramani. The police say that Subramani went home a while later, but Uday was still hanging around on the outskirts of the village.
“When he didn’t return home, we all went looking for him, but found him hanging on a tree nearby,” revealed Nagaraju.
Media reports peg Bevahalli population at 1,300. While majority of them belong to the Vokkaliga community, the SC community have around 30 to 40 houses. The accused named in the FIR are absconding and the police have launched a manhunt.
“Uday never got into a fight. He was such a happy person, who never took anything to heart. I still can’t believe this happened. I was recently talking to Uday’s parents telling them that both Pawan and Uday are growing up and we need to find the right girls for their marriage,” said the uncle, who is still in disbelief.