Bengaluru, Feb 12: It has been more than seven months since 17-year-old Dalit boy Anil Parasuram Metri was allegedly murdered at Mirji village of Bagalkot district in Karnataka. He was allegedly poisoned to death for ‘writing’ a love letter–a charge that the bereaved family refutes–to a girl who belongs to an upper caste family.
According to his family members, it was the girl’s father, brother and one more accused who first thrashed Anil. Thereafter, the boy was allegedly kidnapped by few youths in the village who took him to a sugarcane field and forcefully made him consume poison.
The incident took place on July 1, 2015. On July 6, Anil died in BLDE Hospital, Bijapur, where he was undergoing treatment. Anil’s brother Vittal lodged a complaint at Mudhol Police Station in Bagalkot district on July 4. The FIR, a copy of which is with OneIndia, mentions three main accused-Basappa Hanamanth Bisanakoppa (girl’s father), Hanamanth Basappa Bisanakoppa (girl’s brother) and Kallappa Payannavar (an acquaintance of the first two accused). Following the FIR, the three accused were arrested and were in police custody for a month, after which they were released on bail.
The accused have been booked under Section 323 of the IPC (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), Section 324 of the IPC (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), Section 307 of the IPC (attempt to murder) and Section 34 of the IPC (acts done by several persons in furtherance of a common intention).
They were also booked under SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Vittal told OneIndia, “Police officers are not cooperating. They’ve refused to share the updated version of the chargesheet with us. Till date, no public prosecutor has been appointed to fight the case on our behalf.”
When OneIndia contacted Bagalkot SP MN Nagaraj, he said that he was recently transferred to the district and busy with zila and taluk panchayats (ZP/TP) elections, slated on February 13 and February 20. “I have recently been posted as the Bagalkot SP. I am aware about the case, but I can’t share the details with you right now. I am busy with election duty.”
Further when informed about the slow progress of the case, Nagaraj added, “Ask Mr Vittal to meet me in my office.” Anil’s family, including his father, mother and four brothers, work and stay in a six-acre agricultural land, which belongs to one Venkanagouda. The girl’s family also stays in the neighbourhood.
On July 1, 2015, around 9 pm, my parents saw Anil being brutally beaten by Basappa, Hanamanth and Kallappa in Basappa’s house. Both my father and mother tried to rescue Anil, but could not. They accused that Anil wrote a love letter to Basappa’s daughter. This angered the girl’s family as they belong to an upper caste and we are Dalits.
My parents were also beaten by the three accused,” said Vittal. “My parents came home and narrated the harrowing episode to me. Immediately, three of us (Anil’s mother, father and Vittal) went back to Basappa’s house. However, Anil was not there. We looked for him everywhere but couldn’t trace Anil. Next day, on July 2, we found Anil lying in a sugarcane cultivation area. He was badly injured, but was alive. We took him to the Mahalingapura government hospital, close to our village. Doctors at the hospital advised us to shift him to Hanchinal hospital as his condition was critical.
Again from the second hospital, we shifted him to Rabakavi hospital, as suggested by the doctors. He was not only beaten, but was also forced to consume poisonous chemicals. So, doctors at the hospital made him vomit. As his condition was deteriorating, we again took him to the BLDE Hospital in Bijapur district. Anil was undergoing treatment at the BLDE hospital till he died on July 6,” added Vittal. Before he died, Anil told his family members that on the wee hours of July 2, he almost managed to reach his home.
However, few local youths kidnapped him and took him to a secluded area. The youths pushed Anil from a hillock and grievously injured him. Thereafter, he was forcefully made to consume poison. “The youths belong to a gang of local village boys. In fact, it was the leader of the gang, Praveen Ramanna Karannavar, who had asked Anil to hand over a letter to the girl. Praveen and the girl were in a relationship. My brother told the girl’s family that the letter was written by Praveen and he was asked to deliver it. But they did not believe him and beat him. Even though Praveen also belongs to the upper caste Reddy community like the girl, her family members did not approve of their relationship.
Fearing further backlash from the girl’s side, Praveen and his friends poisoned and killed my brother,” said a teary-eyed Vittal. Vittal, also accused the police of protecting Praveen and his gang members. “The police refused to include the assault and poisoning of my brother in the FIR despite the post-mortem report declaring that poison was found in Anil’s body,” said Vittal. Based on a complaint filed by Y Mariswamy, a Dalit rights activist and state organiser of Samajika Parivarthana Andholana (SPJ), a movement for people’s rights, the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPC), has taken up the case. “We want justice for Anil. The accused should be prosecuted and punished according to the law.
As per the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, we demand full financial compensation for the family. As the family is very poor and engaged in agricultural labour, we want the government to give a job to one of the family members on compensatory ground,” said Mariswamy.
Anil is not the only Dalit boy who faced the wrath of upper caste people in Mirji village. Recently, another Dalit youth from the village was brutally beaten up allegedly by several upper caste men. Due to severe injuries, the boy can’t walk anymore. Vittal told OneIndia that after his brother’s murder the family is facing social ostracisation. “Most of the land belongs to upper caste families in the village. Since our brother has been murdered by upper caste people and we have approached the police to get justice, nobody is giving us any work. We have also been barred from using the public toilets in the village.
Even the Dalits in the village have stopped any kind of communication with us. They are afraid of antagonising the upper caste people,” said Vittal. After Anil’s death, local Dalits initially staged protest rallies against the brutal incident. “However, everyone has forgotten about Anil’s death now. But I will fight till the culprits are punished,” said Vittal.