Two Dalit men were thrashed by a group of self-styled cow vigilantes in a village in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region for allegedly refusing to dispose the carcass of a calf.
Seven people roughed up Nagji Rathod and Mayabhai Rathod of Mandal village when they said they had stopped doing this work in response to a state-wide call by Dalit activists not to clear dead animals, police said.
Mr Nagji and Mr Mayabhai were taken to a private hospital in Mahuva town for treatment.
Acting swiftly following a complaint, police on Monday arrested village sarpanch Atabhai Ahir, who led the vigilantes. Two of the four others in the attack are yet to be identified.
They have all been charged under the Indian Penal Code and The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on a complaint filed by Nagji Rathod, 45.
Police Inspector VM Zala told IANS, "We have lodged a complaint against the seven accused and the probe has now been handed over to the Deputy Superintendent of Police at Rajula."
Mr Nagjia's elder brother Soma Rathod said, "Two days ago, a calf died on the roadside in Mandal village. Sarpanch Atabhai Ahir approached Nagji and asked him to dispose the dead animal. Nagji refused saying he had stopped disposing dead animals in the wake of the attacks on their community by cow vigilantes."
"We are being constantly harassed by villagers for no reason. Our life has become miserable as people are trying to attack us economically," Soma Rathod added.
Soma Rathod owns a unit in Mandal village where bones of dead animals are crushed and sent to Godhra for further processing.
Sunday's assault was the second incident of attack on the Rathod family.
In May, Soma Rathod's son Premji Rathod was among seven Dalits who were roughed up some 20 vigilantes, again in Rajula.
In this case, the attackers filmed the entire drama.
(With IANS inputs)