In a shocking incident, three minor Dalit boys were stripped, beaten and paraded nude in a village here for allegedly swimming in a village well.
The incident occurred on June 10 (Sunday), but came to the fore only after some videos of the boys’ parading in the Vakadi village went viral even as the authorities swung into action.
Maharashtra Social Justice Minister Dilip Kamble told media persons that two persons have been arrested in this connection and further investigations are underway.
Union social welfare minister Ramdas Athawale condemned the incident and demanded “stringent action against the perpetrators of the atrocity on the boys”.
Last Sunday, to beat the scorching heat, the three young boys, aged around 12-14, jumped into a village well for a cool swim.
However, as some locals learnt of it, a large number of people, including many from upper castes, gathered near the well and pulled out the boys.
They were shouted at and subjected to abuses before some persons allegedly forced the boys to strip and paraded them nude around the village.
The boys can be seen wearing only sandals and some tree leaves, and they protested when at least one person was whipping them on the legs and back with sticks and what appeared to be a leather belt.
After much cajoling the boys and their families reluctantly lodged a complaint with the local police, but now they were under intense pressures from some influential villagers to backtrack.
Several Dalit and political leaders from the opposition Congress and ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, including ex-minister Eknath Khadse, Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani, have condemned the incident and demanded that the culprits be booked under the SC/ST Act.
Former chief minister Ashok Chavan and former state minister Laxman Dhoble, terming the incident as unfortunate, said that such incidents are on the rise in recent times and the matter has also been discussed in Parliament.
This evening, Maharashtra minister Chandrakant Patil promised action in the matter and invoking sections of the SC/ST Act and Indian Penal Code, besides steps to ensure such acts are not repeated in future.