(Trigger warning: Descriptions of violence, caste atrocity)
Four people have been arrested by the Bellampalli Police in Telangana's Mancherial district for allegedly torturing Chilumula Kiran, a 30-year-old daily wage labourer, and Kukkala Teja, a 19-year-old worker at a sheep farm, by hanging them upside down above burning firewood.
What happened? Bellampalli ACP B Sadaiah told The Quint that the accused – Komuraju Ramulu (58), a sheep farm owner, his wife Swarupa (54), their son Srinivas (37), and Ajmeera Naresh (23), a worker at their farm – allegedly tortured Kiran, who belongs to the Dalit community, and Teja over the "theft of a goat and a pipe" in the Yapal area of Mandamarri town.
Viral visuals of the incident, which occurred at around 10:30 am on Friday, 1 September, showed the duo – with their hands and legs tied to the ceiling of a cattle shed – being hit over burning firewood.
What is the case? A case has been registered under Sections 342 (wrongful confinement) and 307 (attempt to murder) read with 34 (committing a criminal act with common intention) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, as per the First Information Report (FIR) filed in the incident.
What the Police Said
Bellampalli ACP said that Kiran, whose parents passed away a while ago, has been living with his maternal aunt in Mandamarri town. He is a daily wage labourer who takes up masonry work.
On Friday morning, he went to work at a house in the area – and at about 10:30 am, Ramulu, Srinivas, and Naresh allegedly dragged him out of the house. Shravan, the owner of the house where he was working, told the police that they accused Kiran of stealing a goat and a pipe from their farm, the FIR accessed by The Quint said.
Kiran, along with Teja – who was also picked up by the accused "for having knowledge about the theft" – was taken to a shed at the farm. They were tied up, tortured, and hit with sticks, the ACP said.
The ACP added that the duo were let off only after Shravan went to the shed and offered money for the stolen goat. The duo suffered minor injuries.
The incident was brought to the attention of the police after Kiran reportedly went missing on Saturday evening. His aunt filed a complaint with the Bellampalli Police and efforts are underway to find Kiran.
While Ramulu, Swarupa, and Srinivas were arrested on Saturday night, the Bellampalli Police nabbed Naresh on Sunday morning. The accused have been sent to the District Jail in Adilabad on judicial remand.
'Will Take Action Against Mute Spectators'
In light of rising crimes against Dalits, Bellampalli ACP said the Ramagundam Commissionerate – which the case falls under – is observing Civil Rights Day on the 30th of every month to sensitise people in villages about caste discrimination.
Ramagundam Commissioner of Police Rema Rajeshwari told South First that the police would also take action against persons who were present at the scene of the crime, but refused to come to the aid of the victims.
"We are in the process of identifying them, and we will initiate legal action against them for being mute spectators," she told the publication.