A seven-year-old Dalit boy had his head bashed into a pillar allegedly by a priest after he entered a temple at Nelamangala on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
"I had gone to eat the free prasad that was being offered on Sunday. The priest hit me and asked me how dare I enter the temple," Santosh, the son of cobbler, told HT. Vijay Kumar, the priest of the Rudreshwara temple in Nelamangala, has been absconding since Tuesday.
Santosh's friend, Chetan Kumar (12), who was also chased away by the priest, said, "He asked us where we were from. He asked us to leave the moment we told him we are from Jayanagar (Dalit colony). But Santosh was adamant and started arguing with him. We ran away, the moment Santosh was hit."
Although the boy was attacked on Sunday afternoon, the police registered a case only at 8.30 pm on Tuesday following pressure from the media and Dalit groups. Curiously, the priest, who was available to the media until Tuesday afternoon, went missing just a few hours before the FIR was filed.
Contrary to initial media reports, which quoted the the police as saying that they hadn't received a complaint, the boy's mother Munirathnamma told HT on Wednesday, "We have visited the police station several times since Sunday but the police did not register a case. After some reports in the media a senior police official (Deputy Superintendent of Police V Sridhar) visited our house on Tuesday."
The last time Santosh had his wound dressed was on Sunday. "The (government) doctor asked us to go a private lab and get a scan. The scan costs Rs. 2,500. We dont have that kind of money," said Munirathnamma. Asked why she didn't go back to the government hospital and at least change the bandage, she said, "The doctor might ask for the scan reports which we don't have."
The temple's managing trustee, N S Nagaraj said, "He was trying to steal money not Prasad. The boy slipped and fell when he was trying to run away."
DySP Sridhar said a thorough investigation will be conducted. "We will also investigate why a complaint wasn't registered suo motu," he said.