Aligarh gang rape
Aligarh gang rapeReuters

Avaneesh, a 22-year-old Dalit man, was allegedly beaten to death by a shopkeeper and his associates on Tuesday after they accused him of stealing wrist watches from a stall at a fair in the Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh.

The FIR, filed by the victim's neighbour, states that the shopkeeper asked Avaneesh about his caste. When it was revealed that he was a Dalit, the shopkeeper beat him and hit him on his head with a stick, according to local media reports.

Prasoon, neighbour of the accused, suffered injuries while trying to save him.

The shopkeepers, Pushpendra Singh and Sanjeev Verma, were arrested by the police on Wednesday while the other two associates who were involved in the crime are still absconding. The police are still on the lookout for them. The wrist watches were allegedly stolen from Singh's shop.

Avaneesh, a resident of Nakeda village in Mohammadi, had gone to visit Gola Gokarannath temple and the Bhootnath Mela along with Prasoon on Monday night, Station House Officer (SHO) Ashok Pandey of the Gola police station was quoted by the Indian Express as saying.

They stopped by at a stall around 2 a.m. to buy a watch, Prasoon told the police. He added that Avaneesh allegedly kept three other watches inside his pocket while selecting one for himself. Singh caught him and began abusing when other shopkeepers also joined him.

Prasoon, in his complaint, also said that Avaneesh had tried to explain to the shopkeeper that he was about to pay for the watches when Singh caught hold of him, the SHO said. Upon intervening, Prasoon was also beaten up by the shopkeepers prompting him to run away from the scene. The victim was bleeding profusely, Prasoon told the police.

Avaneesh was rushed to a local hospital by other shopkeepers where he was declared brought dead.

The four men have been booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and also under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the daily reported.