NEW DELHI: Congress president Rahul Gandhi reacted sharply Friday to an incident where Dalit boys were beaten and paraded naked in a village in Maharashtra for swimming in a well. Gandhi accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of spreading “poisonous politics of hatred” in the country and said “history will not forgive us” if this wasn’t opposed.
The Congress president tweeted a video of the two minors being beaten up after being paraded naked in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district. They had allegedly been swimming in a well that belonged to a person of a different caste.
“In Maharashtra, these Dalit children’s mere offence was that they were bathing in a ‘savarna’ well. Friday, even humanity is down to its last straw to preserve its dignity. History will never forgive us if we do not raise our voices against the poisonous politics of hatred by RSS/BJP’s ‘Manuwaad’,” he tweeted in Hindi.
The incident took place on June 10 when three Dalit boys from the Vakadi village in Jalgaon district went swimming in a well which irked the villagers. As a punishment the boys were allegedly forced to strip, beaten, and then paraded. They were allegedly beaten with leather belts, police added. The boys’ families have lodged police complaints.
Minister Ramdas Athawale condemned the incident and said he will visit the village where the incident took place on Saturday to ensure the victims get justice.
In a statement, the head of Congress’s Maharashtra unit Ashok Chavan said, “Atrocities against Dalits have increased after the BJP came to power. Several instances of attacks against Dalits across states have been reported. The government is not doing enough to act against those who are attacking Dalits.”
The incident has also been condemned by senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse and Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani.