Dalit youths slammed in Gujarat for ‘comments’ on social media

A group of seven youths in Vadodara whipped, punched, kicked and pulled a Dalit youth’s hair with their belts in public, allegedly via a “comment” on social media. However, police suspect the attack was the result of a “one-sided love affair”.

Four of the suspects were arrested on Thursday and will be arrested following their Covid-19 tests.

The accused are also said to have broadcast their act of violence live on social media, a video of which has been widely circulated. The incident took place on December 11 in Bhayli village under Vadodara Taluka police station.

According to FIR, at the time of the incident, Dalit victim Alpesh Parmar was sitting with a girl believed to be a local fashion designer near Sevasi Canal Road. The seven youths, who belonged to the Rajput and OBC communities, beat Parmar while allegedly hurling casteist insults.

The FIR was registered as a victim of rioting, assault and criminal intimidation and by sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Atrocity Prevention Act) against unidentified persons, Parmar did not identify anyone.

Parmar, 24, lodged a complaint with the police on December 21 after learning of video footage showing him being beaten by the accused. He stated in the FIR that the defendant warned him not to go to the police, which forced him to remain silent. The defendants are said to have uploaded the video to social media platforms with a warning that “it could happen to those who make negative remarks during our live broadcast”. The video ended with the slogan “Jai Rajputana”.

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Police said Parmar befriended the girl through social media and exchanged numbers. The duo also met a few times, but their friendship didn’t last. Police said Parmar allegedly posted some offensive comments on social media about the girl and her friends, sparking a controversy.

Despite repeated attempts, Parmar did not respond IE while the girl’s father said he was also “inquiring about the incident.”

“The girl has a large following on a social media platform. On December 11, she had gone to a temple and made her visit live. Parmar met her through a live broadcast and followed her. The girl called her friends, including the suspect who beat up Parmar,” a police officer said, adding that the girl herself told officers she was being “stalked”.

Vadodara Police Superintendent Rohan Anand said IE that four of the suspects have been arrested for investigation. They were identified as Mahipal Chavda, Tushar Solanki, Piyush Rathod and Pranav Solanki.

On the other hand, the case was also highlighted by Gujarat Congress Working President and MLA Jignesh Mevani, who described the incident as “an attempt to lynch a Dalit youth in public”.