What actually happened in Talegaon?
According to reliable sources, this is what happened: around 8.30 to 9 pm on 8th October 2016, after finishing his dinner, the alleged perpetrator (a Dalit boy aged 14 years) was chatting with his two Maratha friends near his house. The victim, a minor Maratha girl, was the neighbor of the Dalit boy. She came out of her house and joined the trio. After sometime, the Dalit boy returned to his house. While returning to his house, the two Maratha friends started to make loud noises and created a commotion.
At this instance, the family members of the Maratha girl came outside their home and started to beat the Dalit boy. Later, they also beat the family members of the Dalit boy. In 10 to 15 minutes, the rest of the villagers joined this whole commotion. The vehicles and tractor of the Dalit family were vandalized by the villagers. Residential property was also vandalized. The local police arrived later, and arrested the Dalit boy. In the span of 15 minutes after the arrest of the Dalit boy, there was an attack on the Buddhist community in the nearby Vilhodi village.
After this, on the morning of 9th October, the Mumbai-Nasik-Agra highway was blocked by the caste rioters. The public and private vehicles were set on fire and gutted down by the caste rioters. The cumulative attack on the residences of Buddhist community started on 9th October .The news of the attack on the Buddhist community was circulated on Whatsapp, social media. The caste Maratha rioters organized in groups and started to threaten Buddhist community members around Sinnar, Trimbak and Igatpuri. Rioters especially targeted the vehicles and properties having the Buddhist and Ambedkarite symbols.
Later, the victim, the minor Maratha girl, gave interview to the “Astha News Channel” that nothing had happened to her and nobody molested her. After this, the doctors of the Nasik Civil Hospital conducted thorough medical examination and announced that there was no rape committed on the minor victim. This was followed by the Guardian Minister of Nashik district, Girish Mahajan, giving the official statement that there was no rape on the victim, citing the medical report of the Civil Hospital, Nashik. He cited that here was an attempt to rape. This announcement further infuriated the mob. This particular televised announcement of the Minister resulted in more anger towards the whole Buddhist and Dalit community. Several sections of IPC related to rape were charged on the Dalit boy even though the medical report denied any kind of rape on the minor victim.
The family of the Dalit boy left Talegaon and stayed at their relative’s house at Pimpalgaon. The Dalit family is a middle class agrarian family. They own some agricultural land. The Marathas of the Talegaon work in their fields. Earlier, many times, some of the Marathas wanted to purchase the land belonging to the Dalit family but they were unsuccessful. Some foul play is being suspected due to the various meticulous and timely events that occurred after the brawl of 8th October night. The Nashik Bar Council, mostly dominated by the Maratha community, has decided not to take up the case of the alleged perpetrator.
How did this whole commotion result in caste riots led by Marathas?
1) There was no crime committed but the whole caste violence, that followed the ‘rape’, in retaliation targeted the Buddhist community. The whole Buddhist community was targeted on the pretext of “Loss of Honor” of the Maratha Community.
2) The local Police force dominated by the Maratha community was totally insensitive towards protection of the Buddhist community.
3) The various attacks were pre-planned and many Buddhist communities were simultaneously attacked in various villages around Trimbak, Sinnar and Igatpuri.
4) The background of the Maratha agitation for Reservation and to repeal the Atrocity Act has further incited the Maratha community against the Buddhist community.
Apathy of the Police Department and District Administration
(This section is excerpted and translated from an article in the Marathi daily Samrat, published on 13/10/2016)
On Wednesday, in Nashik Road area, the local Police Department targeted the Buddhist residents in the name of combing operations. They forcefully entered into the residences and beat men, women, and children of the Buddhist community. They also arrested the innocent Buddhists. Many others also got injured. On the other hand, the Marathas who instigated the caste riots are still free. So far, the police have not arrested a single member from the Maratha community for the caste riots.
On the same day, around 500 Police Personnel staged a flag march in the Nashik Road area. Buddhist residents of Bhim Nagar, Kuber society, Nalanda Society, Adarsh Society and various wards of Buddhist residents were targeted by the Police. Even the Ward Member, Pavan Pawar and his three family members were not spared by the Police. They were beaten up by the Police.
Mobile internet services are suspended for three days. Even the bus services towards Nashik by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) have been suspended. Beer bars, liquor shops and restaurants will be closed forthe next three days.
Indrajeet Bhalerao writes: “We have not committed any crimes but the caste rioters raided our place of residence and beat us. They vandalized our homes. They gutted our vehicles .They beat our Mother, Father, Sisters, Brothers and our children. What are their crimes? Is being a Buddhist big crime? If the Government, Police and Castiest Force don’t want our presence then they should collectively shoot us. Instead of dying daily it’s better to die once. This Government is worse than English Government .How are we going to live?
Amar Khade is a self-employed engineer by profession and an anti-caste activist by choice.