Rajasthan: Dalit youth killed over Ambedkar poster

Vinod Bamnia, a 21-year-old Dalit youth and a Bhima Army member in Rajasthan died following a brutal assault by a group of men from the OBC community, two weeks after the assailants tore posters of Dr BR Ambedkar pasted outside his home.

According to Indian Express, Bamnia suffered injuries from the assault on 5 June near his home in Kikraliya village of Rajasthan’s Hanuman Garh’s district but succumbed two days later in a hospital in Sriganganagar.

Mukesh, Bamnia’s relative filed an FIR and is an eyewitness in the case.

The FIR states that the attackers shouted anti-Dalit slurs during the assault, and said: “Aaj tumhe tumhara Ambedkarvad yaad dilvayenge (We will make you remember your Ambedkarite ideology today.”

“Recently, some men including Anil Sihag and Rakesh Sihag, who also live in our village, had torn the banners of Babasaheb Ambedkar, which were put up outside our home since Ambedkar Jayanti on April 14. After we identified them, we complained to their families. The matter was sorted with the mediation of the panchayat, and their family members apologised on their behalf,” Mukesh told Indian Express.

Mukesh has named several people in the FIR filed after the attack and his death. Two of those named – Anil Sihag and Rakesh Sihag – are among the four people who have been arrested so far.

He went on to say: “But the actual culprits wanted to take revenge. On June 5, Vinod and I were on our way to our fields in the village when we were attacked by Rakesh, Anil and a few others, who were waiting for us with sticks. I managed to escape with minor injuries. But they beat up Vinod with hockey sticks about 20-30 times. He was taken to Rawatsar and referred to hospitals in Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar where he subsequently succumbed to his injuries,” said Mukesh.

Initially, the FIR was registered under IPC Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly) and sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. After Bamnia’s death, the charge of attempt to murder was changed to murder (Section 302).

Vinod Bamnia had registered complaints twice earlier this year on different issues — one in April on receiving threat calls after he objected to copies of the Hanuman Chalisa being distributed at a school, and another naming several village residents for attacking him and his family members for objecting to a road block, Indian Express quoted police officials.

The Bhim Army is staging a protest over the matter.

“Vinod was a very active member of Bhim Army and regularly raised issues of caste discrimination and reported them. The reason behind his murder is casteism. We protested yesterday until Vinod’s family got a favourable response from the administration about their demands, including compensation,” Satyavan Indasar, Bhim Army state unit president, told IE.

He also said that Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad is expected to visit Hanumangarh to meet Bamnia’s family.