A 70-year-old man died in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhatarpur district after he was asked by three men of his caste to stand on a leg as a punishment for a cow calf’s death in his agricultural field.
The man, Har Singh Lodhi, had earlier undergone a series of ‘purification’ rituals ordered by a caste panchayat.
The three men -- Karan Lodhi, Gondi Lodhi and Mardan – forced Har Singh on Friday to pay ₹500 as penalty, and stand on a leg at Ramtoriya village in Badi Malahra area. He gave ₹500 to the men, but unable to stand on a leg for long, he fell down and fainted. He was taken to a hospital where doctors declared him dead on arrival.
“The elderly man was given the punishment for what they said atonement for the death of the cow calf in the agricultural field on December 9,” said Dariyab Singh, foster son of Har Singh.
Chhatarpur’s Bamnora police station sub-inspector Pradip Saraf said a case has been lodged under section 174 of CrPC (death under circumstances raising a reasonable suspicion).
“Though the deceased man’s foster son has verbally made the allegations, his statements are yet to be recorded. Once the statements are recorded and the autopsy report is out, action will be taken against those found responsible for the death,” Saraf told Hindustan Times on Sunday.
“Dairyab Singh said a calf was found dead in their agricultural field with a bottle of rat-killer on December 9.”
Panchayat slapped a series of punishments on the deceased
A Lodhi caste panchayat, which met the next day at Ramtoriya village, blamed Har Singh for the calf’s death. The panchayat slapped a series of punishments on him -- taking a ‘prayaschit snan’ (bath for atonement), tonsuring of head, and hosting of a lunch for the community members.
Abiding by the diktat, Har Singh went with his son to Allahabad on December 13 to take the bath at the Triveni Sangam, and got his head tonsured. He returned to the village the next day, and hosted two community lunches for the Lodhi villagers.
“While the family thought that the matter was over, the three men of the Lodhi clan gave the elderly man punishment which caused his death,” said Dairyab Singh.
Vigilantism in the name of cattle protection has triggered a spate of attacks in many states, including Madhya Pradesh that has over 1.96 crore cows.
Police officials of the state posted in districts bordering Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh confirmed that anti-socials, in the garb of cow vigilante groups, were attacking those carrying milch animals.