A Dalit man was pronounced dead upon arrival after he was brutally beaten while watching people dance at the Hindu festival of Dussehra in Gujarat, western India, on Sunday at around 4:00 a.m.
The victim was identified as Jayesh Solanki, 21, who attended the festival along with his cousins to watch the performance, according to the BBC.
Prakash, one of Solanki’s cousins who was with him during the event, said a man approached them as they are watching people dance and celebrate the festival of Dussehra.
“He told us how dare you come here. We told him that we came to watch the Garba because our sisters and daughters were participating. But he started abusing us,” Prakash said in the official police complaint.
Prakash continued saying that the man left after his initial harassment, but returned with seven other men. One of the men slapped Prakash, which prompted Solanki to react and intervene. Unfortunately, he was dragged away and beaten to death.
The 21-year-old Dalit man was reportedly flung against a wall, resulting in him losing consciousness. As the victim lay on the ground unconscious, the men continued to beat him.
Solanki was later rushed to the hospital in Karamsad, but was pronounced dead immediately upon arrival by the attending physicians, Hindustan Times reported.
An officer said the attack was not considered pre-planned.
“Jayesh was killed in the heat of the moment, as there was no rivalry between him and the accused. We are probing the case from all angles. The accused will be arrested soon,” Deputy Patel said in a statement.
The Dalits, formerly called “the untouchables”, are considered to be the lowest social status in the Hindu caste system — below Shudra (the farmers and servants). The term “untouchables” was coined in the 1930s by the Dalits, which means “the oppressed”.
They were called the untouchables due to the tasks they performed in society, which includes spiritually contaminating work such as preparing dead bodies for funerals and killing rats or other pests.