Shirdi, Maharashtra: A 21-year-old Dalit man in Maharashtra’s temple town Shirdi was brutally killed by upper caste and OBC men for allegedly having a song on BR Ambedkar as his mobile ringtone.
On May 16 at around 2 PM, Sagar Shejwal, a nursing student, who was in Shirdi to attend a wedding, was sitting in a local beer shop with two of his cousins when he got a call on his cellphone, police said.
On hearing the ringtone, “Kara kitihi halla, majboot Bhimacha killa” (Shout all you want, Bhim’s fortress is strong), which was in praise of Ambedkar’s work for Dalits, eight youths sitting there got agitated and asked him to switch it off, police said.
An altercation followed and the assailants hit Sagar with a beer bottle and started kicking and punching him. Then they dragged him out, put him on a motorcycle and took him away to a nearby forest, said the police.
His body, which was later found near Shingve village on the evening of May 16, bore marks of it being crushed under a two wheeler, police said, adding he was also crushed with a stone.
The attackers belong to the dominant Maratha and OBC communities, and allegedly ran their bike repeatedly over Sagar’s body, mutilating it.
According to the police, Sagar’s mobile was missing, but the CCTV footage of the incident in the beer shop was available. The police is studying the CCTV footage.
Four of the eight men who were allegedly involved in the brutal assault have been arrested.
Two of the attackers were caught from Goa, one from Pune and the fourth from Shirdi itself, an official from Shirdi police station said.
Those arrested were identified as Vishal Kote, Rupesh Wadekar, S Wadekar and Sunil Jadhav. Four other accused involved in the attack were still absconding, police said.
The attackers have been booked under Sections 302 (murder), 395 (punishment for dacoity), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 109 (punishment of abetment) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 (2) (v) and 3 (1) (x) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.