A 45-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly beaten up by a group of people, made to strip and paraded naked at Moolgaon in Patan taluka in Satara district on Monday.
Brutal attack: The victim shows her injuries to Dalit Mahasangh
president Machindra Sakate. The 45-year-old was allegedly thrashed
and paraded naked in Moolgaon, Satara district, after an upper caste
family claimed their daughter had eloped with her son. Pic/Raju Sanadi
Dalit activists alleged that authorities delayed registering a complaint and were avoiding stern action against the perpetrators of the act because they were close to an aide of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. They said the aide was the chairman of a sugar factory in Patan.
Helping hand: Dalit Mahasangh president Machindra Sakate comforts
the victim in hospital. PIC/Raju Sanadi
The incident took place after the victim's son eloped with an upper caste girl on December 18. The girl's parents reportedly lodged a missing complaint and also started harassing the Dalit woman to get her to talk about her son and their daughter's whereabouts. The victim had claimed no knowledge of the couple's elopement.
According to locals, the family of the girl cornered the Dalit woman near a public well on Monday and started asking her questions. After a heated exchange of words, they beat her up and even paraded her naked in the village.
The woman sustained severe injuries and was admitted to a hospital in Karad later that day. "This atrocious act of parading a Dalit woman naked after beating her up in the CM's home district speaks about the state of Dalits in the progressive state of Maharashtra," said Dalit Mahasangh founder-president Machindra Sakate.
"The authorities are also turning a blind eye to the incident as the girl hails from a politically influential family which has strong connections with the board of directors of the Shambhuraje sugar factory. The chairman of this sugar factory is believed to be close to the Chief Minister. The girl's uncle Hambir Desai is also a board member of the sugar factory."
Desai was one of the five arrested under the Atrocities Act yesterday evening. The police dismissed all allegations and said that there was no delay in taking action. "The lady, who was admitted to a Karad hospital, lodged a complaint there. The complaint was transferred to Patan on Tuesday. We have arrested Kisan Dattatray Desai, Hambirrao Bapurao Desai, Shantabai Kisan Desai, Vimal Vishwas Desai and Sunita Hambirrao Desai under the Atrocities Act," said Police Inspector Fattelal Naikawade of the Patan police station.
Naikawade added that the initial inquiry pointed to the Dalit woman being beaten up but not paraded naked; sources said two members of the woman's community had confided this to police. Reacting to the Dalit activists' allegations that the police had registered a complaint against only five persons even though a mob had attacked the victim, Naikawade said, "We have taken action on the basis of the complaint filed by the victim, who named only five persons."