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Dalit Man Beaten To Death, Wife Assaulted, in Rajkot, Gujarat (Picture: Screengrab from the video of the assault)

A Dalit man was beaten to death, in a factory compound called Radadiya Industries by five people on Monday (21 May 2018). 35-year-old Mukesh Vaniya was a ragpicker and the assaulters, who also included the factory owner, beat him to death accusing him of stealing scrap. Firstpost reported that his wife Jayaben Vaniya was also beaten up.

The five people who committed murder were arrested and charged with SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (POA) Act and sections of the IPC relating to murder, assaulting a woman and wrongful confinement. They are Jaysukh Radadiya, owner of the factory, and his four friends, Chirag Patel, Divyesh Patel, Jaysukh Radadiya and Tejas Zala.

The matter came to light when a video of the incident which showed Vaniya being beaten with a stick by the arrested was circulated on social media. One person was holding Vaniya by a rope tied around his waist while the others took turns to beat him. The police identified the assaulters based on this video.

Gujarat’s independent MLA Jignesh Mevani condemned the act saying, ‘Mr. Mukesh Vaniya belonging to a Scheduled Caste was miserably thrashed and murdered by factory owners in Rajkot, and his wife was brutally beaten up.’ Comparing the incident to the earlier flogging of Dalit youths that had happened in Una, he said, ‘the government of Gujarat has still not learned from its past mistakes.’

In the Una incident of 2016, seven members of a Dalit family in Gujarat were beaten by Hindu fundamentalists for skinning a dead cow. A video of the act was circulated on social media.

The Supreme Court of India had, on 20 March, diluted the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (POA) Act, protecting public officials and private individuals — from immediate arrest under the Act. Protests erupted in different parts of the country and serious questions were raised regarding the verdict in the context that India has been witnessing a surge in the atrocities against Dalits under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. It is after the party came to power that similar incidents where the violence against Dalits and Muslims were captured on camera and later circulated on social media started to crop up in different parts of the country.

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