New Delhi: A 14-year-old Dalit boy was allegedly not only forced to drink urine by some dominant caste Thakur men in Uttar Pradesh’s Jaunpur district but was also booked under charges of sexual harassment on the complaint of those who assaulted and humiliated him.
The Dalit boy’s family told The Wire they felt the FIR under sexual harassment was lodged against him, within 33 minutes of his own complaint against the alleged atrocity being registered, to deter them from pursuing the legal case. The Wire also spoke to the accused dominant caste men. They denied the allegation that they forced the boy to drink urine and accused the Dalit family of “misusing” provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 to cover up the boy’s alleged offence of sexually harassing a girl from their family.
On November 24, an FIR was lodged at Sujanganj police station in Jaunpur at 7:30 pm on the complaint of Brijesh Gautam, who accused a Thakur father-son duo and other unidentified men of assaulting his teenage son. The incident happened on November 23. Gautam alleged that the accused persons thrashed his son, abused him with casteist slurs, forced him to drink urine from a glass and then shaved off his left eyebrow.
According to the police complaint, on November 23, at around 10 am, the teenage boy was returning home to his village Asropur after dropping his friend at a crossing on a cycle when the accused persons Aditya Singh, his father Ashok Kumar Singh alias Bablu Singh, and two others abused him near a petrol pump. Aditya Singh, 18, who runs a tractor for a living, threatened to run over the teenage boy with his farming vehicle, Gautam alleged in the FIR.
The accused persons then took him to an isolated location, a forest area one km away from the petrol pump, where they assaulted and humiliated him, Gautam alleged.
“They hit him while dipping his head into the water and stuffed his mouth with mud. They urinated and made him drink it,” the boy’s grandfather, Mevalal Gautam, told The Wire.
Aditya Singh and Bablu Singh were booked under voluntarily causing hurt and criminal intimidation and slapped with relevant sections of the SC/ST Act.
On November 24, at 8:03 pm, a little more than 30 minutes after Gautam’s FIR was registered, another FIR was lodged at the Sujanganj police station on the complaint of Ashok Kumar Singh alias Bablu Singh. The FIR named the minor Dalit boy and another person identified as Bhondu as accused.
Singh alleged that his daughter (20) was on her way to college when around 100 metres near the petrol pump, the two boys sexually harassed her and used obscene language for her. The girl called for help and soon bystanders surrounded one of the boys (the Dalit) while the other one managed to escape, said Singh. The boy was handed over to the police after the locals dialled 112, UP police emergency services, added Singh.
The FIR was lodged under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage of modesty).
Singh admitted to the fact that he, his son and some locals beat the Dalit boy as they were angered by the alleged sexual harassment of his daughter. However, he denied that they forced the victim to drink urine.
“They are exaggerating and taking undue advantage of their caste identity. We had no previous grudge against them. We didn’t even know them or about their caste,” Singh told The Wire.
Mevalal alleged that the Thakurs lodged the counter FIR to apply pressure on them after the caste atrocity.
“Our child is innocent,” he said. “They are doing this to put pressure on us. Ab hum maar bhi khaye, peshab bhi piye aur upar se muqadma bhi jhele (Our boy got assaulted and was forced to drink urine. On top of that, we must also face a criminal case now)?”
Although he acknowledged the grievance of the Thakur family, Mevalal said that some other boy passing the road, and not his grandson, had harassed the girl. Mevalal said that the police refused to lodge their report on the day of the offence and that it could only be registered after they escalated it with the district police chief the next morning.
Singh denied that he had lodged the FIR against the minor boy as a pressure tactic. “My son who was incidentally passing by that road [after working in a field] when it happened, saw how the two boys pulled my daughter’s dupatta and held her cycle,” he said.
Singh said that he also reached the spot after his son called him. He admitted to hitting the boy as he ‘lost his cool’. “We are of the Thakur caste. If such a thing happens to our daughter or to anyone else, our honour will be hurt. We cannot tolerate such wrong things,” he said.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Badlapur Ashok Kumar Singh said FIRs had been lodged on the complaint of both sides.
“We have arrested one person each from both sides. Further legal action is being taken,” he said.
Police arrested Aditya Singh in the caste atrocity case while one person accused in the sexual harassment case was also arrested. The Dalit boy is still healing from his injuries in a hospital, his family said.