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Dalits and Adivasis

Dalit Man Dies by Suicide After He Was ‘Stripped and Thrashed’ by Upper Caste Men in Maharashtra


Kopardi village in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district is on edge after Vitthal alias Nitin Kantilal Shinde, a 37-year-old Dalit man, died by suicide on Thursday. The incident allegedly occurred following an assault by several upper-caste men after Vitthal participated in a Tamasha program.

The deceased, belonging to the Hindu Mahar Dalit community, reportedly faced casteist comments and assault from three accused from the upper-caste Maratha community, identified as Banti Babasaheb Sudrik, Swapnil Baban Sudrik, and Vaibhav Madhukar Sudrik.

Vitthal’s father Kantilal filed an FIR, stating that the accused assaulted Vitthal, forced him to strip, and beat him at a cremation ground. Vitthal, feeling humiliated, confided in his family about the incident and expressed a desire to end his life.

The following day, Vitthal died by suicide at his residence, leaving behind a note blaming Banti and Swapnil for his death. The incident has sparked protests, with demands for the arrest of all accused.

The situation in Kopardi remains tense, with police present on the ground to maintain law and order. While two accused have been arrested, Police said that efforts are underway to apprehend the third.

The incident has drawn parallels with the 2016 Kopardi rape-murder case, where a 14-year-old Maratha girl was raped and murdered, leading to widespread agitation. Notably, Vitthal Shinde, the recent suicide victim, is reportedly a cousin of one of the accused in the rape-murder case, adding complexity to the situation.

As tensions simmer in Kopardi, the incident underscores ongoing social tensions and the urgent need for effective measures to address caste-based discrimination and violence in society.

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