Beed- In a harrowing incident that has sent shockwaves through Maharashtra, a tribal woman was stripped naked and brutally beaten in the midst of a contentious land dispute. This alarming episode unfolded in the quiet village of Waluj, situated in the heart of Beed district. As the victim and her family grapple with the traumatic aftermath, blame has been squarely placed on the wife of a local BJP MLC, who stands accused of orchestrating the attack. The land in question, claimed by both the victim and the accused, has been in the victim's family for generations, spanning a legacy of 60 to 70 years. This disturbing incident, which occurred on the 15th of October, is now the subject of an ongoing investigation and has ignited widespread outrage, echoing the disturbing memories of a similar incident in Manipur.
The Mooknayak spoke to the family of the victim, who blamed the local BJP MLC's wife for the incident. Her son told The Mooknayak, "My mother was working in the farm on 15th October at 5:30 PM when Prajakta Dhas came to the farm along with Raghu Pawar and Rahul Jagdale and laid claim to the land. Pawar and Jagdale stripped the woman in front of her family. Prajakta Das, the MLC's wife who was present, did nothing to prevent them and instead kept provoking the two to beat her. They beat my mother severely, and when my father and sister-in-law heard her screams, they chased Rahul and Raghu. Rahul hid in the farms, and Raghu attempted to flee in a vehicle. My sister-in-law captured the incident on her mobile and called 112, after which the police arrived."
He said that the police were initially reluctant to register the complaint due to the influence of MLC Suresh Das. He mentioned that he lodged the complaint online after providing initial treatment to his mother at the hospital. When he arrived at the police station with the pen drive containing the video of the incident, the police officials told him, "When we receive the online report, we will register an FIR, and you can go home." After the video went viral on social media, the police contacted them and provided a receipt for the FIR.
He revealed that the land had belonged to his ancestors, and the accused were trying to forcibly occupy it. Less than two months ago, they had uprooted their crops and sown their own. The police had initially refused to register their FIR, and it was only after they obtained a court order that the police registered the FIR.
The victim has registered a case against the wife of the MLA and his wife. The lady alleged that the MLA's wife wants to usurp the property on which the victim also claims ownership. It is said that the land has been in the victim's family for the last 60-70 years. The video of the incident went viral on social media, bearing resemblance to the Manipur incident in which two women were paraded naked in Manipur, and their videos surfaced on social media in July.
The incident occurred on Sunday, 15th October, but the FIR was only registered on 21st October. Suresh Das, the husband of one of the accused, Prajakta Dhas, is a three-time MLA serving as an MLC from the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The case has been registered under the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The Mooknayak spoke to Deputy SP Abhijeet Tanaji Dharashivkar, who is investigating the case. He said, "A case has been registered under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 354 (assaulting or using criminal force on any woman, with the intention to outrage her modesty), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with the intention to breach peace), and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. The investigation in the case is underway."
The Maharashtra State Women Commission Chairperson, Rupali Chakale, has taken cognizance of the incident and demanded police action. She used a social media platform to demand action against the accused, stating, "An incident has come to light in Beed where a woman was raped and stripped due to a land dispute. As soon as I came to know about the incident, I myself inquired with Superintendent of Police Beed over the phone. In this very outrageous incident, a case has been registered against Raghu Pawar, Rahul Jagdale, Prajakta Suresh Dhas."
Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi Chief Prakash Ambedkar expressed his anger on social media over the incident, saying, "Yet another caste-based atrocity against women in Maharashtra. The news is so horrifying that I cannot find words in my vocabulary to express my disgust at this caste-based atrocity by the BJP MLC Suresh Dhas, his wife, and their goons." He also revealed that a delegation from his party met the victim and offered support, stating, "VBA is fighting for the honor and justice for the victim. A VBA delegation led by Kisan Chavan met the victim today and lent her our full support." Ambedkar is likely to visit the district on 28th October, and the opposition may use this incident as a rallying point to target the ruling NDA alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year.
This is not the first time that such an incident has occurred in the Beed district of the state. In 2017, a woman was paraded naked after the accused suspected that she was assisting her brother in having an affair with a woman from their family. A case was registered at Chaklamba Police station in the district.
Other cases in different districts in the past include:
2022: A woman in Nandurbar district of the state was labeled a witch and paraded naked.
2012: A Dalit widow was assaulted and reportedly paraded naked in Mulgaon village of Patan tehsil in Satara district in Maharashtra, after her son eloped with a girl from a high-caste family.
2010: A woman was paraded naked by 11 women and a man in the Sewri area of Mumbai. In 2015, the accused were held guilty by the sessions court.