In what has become a nightmare for a fortnight, sixteen Dalit people were confined in a hell by a BJP supporter in Karnataka and they were tortured for two weeks and one among them was a pregnant woman, who eventually lost her baby after the accused assaulted her. When the horrific story came to light, the BJP supporter and his son have fled and currently on the run.
A case has been registered and probe has been launched into the barbaric crime that sparked a public outcry across the country. Jagadeesha Gowda, who is known to be a staunch BJP supporter, is a resident of Karnataka's Chikkamagaluru district. He is accused of confining sixteen Dalit people under his custody for two weeks. These victims were daily wagers at Gowda's coffee plantation in Jenugadde village and they have borrowed Rs 9 lakh from him.
After they couldn't able to repay the loan, Gowda locked these 16 people in a room and they were reportedly tortured. The illegal confinement went to the attention of police when the relatives of the confined Dalits approached the law enforcement agency. According to NDTV, a senior police officer said, "On October 8, a few people came to Balehonnur police station, alleging their relatives were being tortured by Jagadeesha Gowda. But later that day, they withdrew the complaint."
However, a fresh complaint was lodged next day and based on which the officer investigating the case visited the spot and found that a group of people were locked up in a room. The confined people were released and a pregnant woman, who was one among them, was admitted to the district hospital. She later confessed to the police that she lost her baby after Gowda assaulted her.
A case has been registered under the grounds of committing atrocities on Dalits against Jagadeesha Gowda and his son Tilak Gowda. However, the father-son duo are on the run after being brought under scanner. The police officer said, "We registered a First Information Report (FIR) after the SP referred the case to us." "They were kept under house arrest for 15 days. There are four families which include 16 members and all are from Scheduled Caste", the officer added.
Arpitha, a Dalit woman who lost her baby, said, "I was kept under house arrest. I was beaten up and verbally abused. He (Gowda) had confiscated my phone." Uma Prashanth, the Superintendent of Police, Chikkamagaluru, said, "Some of the men who borrowed money (from Jagadeesha Gowda) had left home, and so the owner kept the rest locked up, according to the complaint by the victims' families."
On the other hand, BJP has drawn a distance from Gowda claiming that he is not associated with the party and that he is a supporter like any other voter. BJP district spokesperson Varasiddhi Venugopal said, "Neither is Jagadeesha a party worker nor a member. He is just a supporter. He is just like any other voter."