Aurangabad: The simmering Dalit-Maratha tension in Pal village of Aurangabad district took a gruesome twist on Monday when villagers allegedly tied a 20-year-old youth to an electric pole and stoned him to death for “attacking” a girl from their community.
According to the police, angry villagers tortured Rohidas Pandit Tupe by rubbing salt and chilli powder into his wounds.
Police from Phulambri claimed they rushed to the village, 40km from Aurangabad, but villagers blocked their way. Later, superintendent of police (Aurangabad rural) Amitesh Kumar went to the village with a large force and picked up 73 Maratha villagers.
Thirty-eight of them were arrested on charges of rioting and murder. They have also been booked under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Two years ago, some Maratha villagers had beaten up and driven Tupe out for allegedly molesting the girl. He had been living in Aurangabad since. On Monday, Rohidas, who was unemployed, came to Pal to meet his family.
Police said Rohidas was infatuated by the girl, but she didn’t have any feelings for him. On Monday, he allegedly stopped the girl on the road and attacked her.
Rohidas’s killing sparked a furore among Dalit organisations, which staged a demonstration outside the SP’s office, demanding that the entire village be booked under the Atrocities Act as well as for murder.
An autopsy was performedon Tupe’s corpse on Tuesday afternoon. His last rites were carried out under heavy police bandobast.
Prohibitory orders have been clamped in the area as the entire Phulambri taluka remained on edge after the incident.
Professor Mangala Khinvsara, an activist, said the animosity between Dalits and Marathas in the village dates back several decades with land being the bone of contention. More than 450 acres of ‘gairaan’ (pasture) are in the possession of the Dalits since 1968. Khinvsara said the Marathas want the Dalits to give up their claim to the land.
Arif Shaikh, DNAINDIA.COM.February 25, 2009