A man from the Dalit, the lower caste in Indian Hindu society, has died after being attacked while attending a celebration of the Hindu festival of Navratri. Eight men have been detained and charged with murder.
Jayesh Solanki, 21, was declared dead at a hospital late on Sunday after being beaten by men at a Navratri festival event he was attending, authorities said on Monday.
Solanki, a member of the marginalized Dalit group formerly known as the "untouchables," went to watch performances of Garba with his cousin, Prakash, in a village in the Anand district, which is located in Gujarat in Western India. Garba is popular dance performed with sticks and is part of the nine-day Navratri festival that honors the Hindu warrior goddess Durga.
Prakash told reporters in India that the upper caste men of the Patel community approached their group and demanded to know why they were there before making derogatory "caste-based abuses." The men later told Prakash's group they had no right to watch Garba in which upper caste members were participating.
"They attacked us during the altercation and banged Jayesh's head against a wall. They punched and kicked him when he fell to the ground," Prakash said.
Police said all eight of the attackers, who were between the ages of 20 and 21, were arrested on Monday, adding that the attack did not appear to be planned in advance.
"The boy was killed due to the sudden provocation, it did not appear to be pre-planned as there was no enmity between them. People from all communities were participating in the festival for days now," police officer AM Patel said.
India's constitution nominally bars discrimination against Dalits, the lowest rank among the Hindu caste system and one of the most marginalized groups in the Asian country. However, incidents of torture and murder are reported regularly, with some cases being debated by political parties in India.
dv/msh (AFP, dpa)