Weeks after an argument, six people in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district allegedly assaulted a Dalit man and got his moustache shaved off at a barbershop, calling it an exclusive symbol of pride for their community, the police said on Friday.
The police said they have booked all six men besides apprehending the barber.
“This was an attempt on the part of the accused to create tensions,” said Rajneesh Kumar, CO Deoband. “The FIR has been filed under appropriate sections against the accused and teams have been formed for their arrest. As part of surveillance, we are tracking their cellphones and will soon have leads. The region is peaceful and we are maintaining vigil. We have apprehended the barber in whose shop the incident took place.”
The victim, Rajat, has alleged that the accused persons threatened him with dire consequences and made casteist remarks. He filed the complaint against Neeraj Rana, Satyam Rana, Mokam Rana, Rupantu Rana, Monty Rana and Sandeep Rana, besides Rajendra the barber. All of them hail from Badgaon village, said the police.
The police have also obtained an audio clip, allegedly from a few weeks ago, in which the accused persons and the victim can be heard arguing and trading caste-based insults.
The FIR says the accused cornered and assaulted Rajat when he was passing through the village on Monday morning, drew sharp weapons, and marched him to Rajendra’s barbershop in the vicinity. They told the victim that the moustache is a symbol of pride for Thakurs and that only they were allowed to keep it, it says.
A purported video of the incident, shared widely on social media and shot by the accused, shows them standing around the victim as half of his moustache is taken off.
The barber, meanwhile, has told the police that he was unaware of the accused persons’ intentions. He claimed he merely did what he was asked to do.
The FIR has been filed under IPC Sections 147 (rioting), 323 (punishment for causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult) as well as relevant sections of the SC/ST Act.