A 25-year-old pregnant Dalit woman and her family were beaten up in Gujarat on Friday allegedly after they refused to dispose of a cow carcass, police has said.
According to the family, a group of men from the upper caste Thakore community came to her house in the Mota Karga village about 180 km from Ahmedabad demanding that they pick up the carcass of a dead cow.
The family had left the work long ago and a boycott called by Dalit groups after the public flogging of four men from the community in the state two months ago had only hardened their resolve.
But upset at their defiance, the men left only to return with a larger group of about 20.
“Even before we could realise what was happening, they started abusing us and then started attacking us with wooden sticks,” Sangita Ranavasiya told NDTV at a government hospital in neighbouring Palanpur.
“They kicked me in my stomach,” she said. Five months pregnant, Sangita started bleeding.
After raining abuses and blows for half-an-hour, the group fled the scene, leaving six other members of her family, including her husband Nilesh, injured.
“We kept telling them we don’t pick up carcasses, but they wouldn’t listen. They kept reminding us that we are supposed to do the menial jobs,” said Nilesh.
Six people were arrested after the family filed a complaint with the police. Doctors have said Sangita’s baby is fine.
Gujarat has been stirred by protests in recent months after four Dalit men were beaten up in Una, in south Gujarat, by alleged cow protectors in July.
Following the incident, the community pledged not to skin dead cows, an occupation thrust upon a section of Dalits.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also joined the clamour against violence in the name of cow protection last month by calling such attackers “anti-social elements”.