The Maharashtra police have arrested four of the eight assailants who crushed a Dalit youth to death under a motorbike for having an Ambedkar song as his mobile ringtone.
Vishal Kote, Somnath, Rupesh Wadekar and Sunil Jadhav were arrested with the help of CCTV camera footage installed at the spot where the incident took place. The rest are absconding.
The incident occurred on Saturday in Shirdi at around 1:30 pm when the victim, Sagar Shejwal, had gone to a beer shop with his two cousins.
"Eight youths were sitting at a table at the shop. When Sagar's mobile rang with the Ambedkar song as its ringtone, the youths told him to switch it off. In a police statement, the cousin has described the song as Tumhi kara re kitihi halla / Mazbut Bhimacha quilla [Shout all you want / Bhim's fortress is strong]," The Hindu quoted Deputy Superintendent of Police Vivek Patil as saying.
While the cousins managed to escape, Sagar became the victim of the brutality unleashed by the men.
"An altercation ensued and the assailants hit Sagar with a beer bottle and started kicking and punching him. Then they dragged him out, put him on a motorbike and took him away to a nearby forest. They crushed him under the bike," Patil said.
The youths belonged to the dominant Maratha and OBC communities.
"Sagar's body was found around 6.30 p.m. in a naked state near Rui village. The cause of death was multiple fractures. The autopsy says Sagar sustained around 25 injuries. He died between 2 and 4 p.m," Patil added.
Sagar's father Subhash Shejwal said that he was unable to understand why the youths would kill his son over such a minor issue.
"I can understand that they hit him. Quarrels can happen anytime, but look at the brutality of the act. Why would they do this on such a trivial matter?" asked Sagar's father Subhash Shejwal.
Sagar was on a visit to Shirdi with his family to attend a wedding.
Police delayed in taking action
Although the Shirdi police station was nearby, the police was late in taking action, alleged Sagar's family as well as the owner of the shop.
"I called the police at 1.45 p.m. when the youths were beating up Sagar, but for a long time they did not come," manager of the beer shop, Sandeep Ghorpade, said.
Sagar's cousins also approached the police for help but did not get any. One of the cousins claimed that it was their family who found Sagar's body.
"Only our relatives were looking for Sagar. No police vehicle was in sight. The body was also discovered by family members," Sagar's cousin Satish Gaikwad, who had filed a complaint against the eight youths.
The police assured a departmental enquiry against Inspector Pramod Wagh and constable Sharad Kadam.
The police have booked the four accused 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.