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Tamil Nadu; Dalit man assaulted for wearing sunglasses, police arrested for resisting attack

A 20-year-old Dalit man, who was assaulted near Virudachalam in Cuddalore district, by five members of the Vanniyar community, was arrested by the police on Wednesday

Tamil Nadu; Dalit man assaulted for wearing sunglasses, police arrested for resisting attack

Tamil Nadu :  Local police arrested Ajith Kumar, a Dalit man, on Wednesday in Virudachalam in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu for resisting an attack. He was assaulted by members of the Vanniyar caste on Saturday, allegedly for wearing sunglasses. While the police had initially detained his attackers, The News Minute reported that Ajith was arrested after they accused him of assault.

On Saturday, 20-year-old Ajith, also known as Alagesan, was on his way back home, accompanied by his sister-in-law. While passing through the village, some members of the numerically dominant Vanniyar caste, an Other Backward Classes community, demanded that he remove his sunglasses and walk his bike back home. According to the New Indian Express, Alagesan was also asked to walk with his head bowed.

One man called Gopi and Alagesan have had bust ups before, The News Minute reported, as Gopi believed Dalits cannot “dress stylishly” and “ride a bike past caste Hindus”.

While Alagesan fought back, Gopi is said to have attempted to disrobe his sister-in-law. As Alagesan called for help, the Vanniyars left, but descended on Alagesan’s home later that day, attacking him and his father, according to the website.

While police said that Gopi and others pelted stones at Alagesan and his uncle, the latter say they were also beaten up. His mother Annakili was also attacked with a sickle when she tried to intervene, Alagesan told media persons.

The police arrested Gopi and five others after protests in the village of M Pattikudikadu under sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Two days later, the police also arrested Alagesan. According to reports, he was arrested after Gopi and his men alleged that Alagesan had assaulted them as well.

Subbujothi, a resident of the village, told The News Minute that Dalits in the village have “fighting the terrible discrimination we face in the hands of Vanniyars here, just because there are larger in number”. He added that the police had arrested Alagesan because of political pressure, though he was just protecting himself. Subbujothi added that the Vanniyars had the backing of almost all political parties.

Meanwhile, the police have denied that Gopi’s attack was not a caste-based one. “This was just an individual issue and doesn’t have anything to do with their communities,” DSP Karthikeyan told The News Miniute. He had previously claimed that both Gopi and Alagesan were under the influence of alcohol when the assault occurred. Alagesan had denied these claims, saying he could not have been drunk because he was riding a bike.

“Gopi is a serial offender. On several occasions he has misbehaved with us, and has passed offensive remarks,” he told the New Indian Express.

“Gopi and others have pelted stones. And in turn Alagesan and two others have assaulted them. They have been injured as well. This could be a case of private defense but the court has to take a call on the matter. The police can only act as per the law.”

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