Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday blamed the RSS and the Bharatiya Janata Party' politics after two Dalits and a tribal boy were paraded nude and assaulted for swimming in a well in Wakadi village here."The sole crime of these Dalit children was they were taking a dip in a well. Humanity is struggling to save its dignity," Gandhi tweeted.He said "if we don't raise our voices against this politics of hate and poison" of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the BJP, "history would not forgive us".Around 3 p.m. on June 10, the three boys were stripped, beaten and paraded nude in Wakadi village allegedly for swimming in a village well.Gandhi's comments on the issue, which has snowballed into a major political controversy, came as a high-level team of the Maharashtra Congress led by MLA Abdul Sattar visited the village in the morning and expressed complete solidarity with the victims and their families.Strongly condemning the outrage on the boys - who police have identified as two Dalits and one tribal - Union Minister for Social Welfare Ramdas Athawale said he will visit the village on Saturday to meet the victims and their families.The incident came as a major embarrassment for the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena combine when Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is on a tour of Dubai, Canada and the US to attract investment.
On June 10, a large number of locals, including many from the upper castes, gathered around the well when they learnt that the boys were swimming in it and pulled them out.They were shouted at and subjected to abuses before some persons forced the boys to strip and paraded them nude around the village.On videos, the boys, two Dalits aged 15 and 16 and a tribal aged 11, can be seen wearing only sandals and some patvelia leaves around their waist.They were seen in the videos vehemently protesting when at least one person was assaulting them on the legs and back with sticks and a leather belt, and another shooting the entire act, as confirmed by the police.Jalgaon Superintendent of Police Dattatreya Karale, who is personally heading the probe, said the Pahur police station has booked two accused - Ishwar Joshi, 30, and his helper Sonya alias Prahlad Lohar, 22 - under provisions of the Indian Penal Code, SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Information Technology Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act.But it was only after much cajoling that the boys and their families had reluctantly agreed to lodge a complaint with the police.
However, later they came under intense pressure to withdraw their complaint, and the families resorted to blaming their own children for their indiscretion in the matter.Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule-Pawar strongly decried the incident and said she felt extremely sad such incidents occur in 21st century India.Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh President Prakash Ambedkar described the incident as shocking."We have seen incidents in Una, Jammu & Kashmir, Bhima Koregaon... and now in Wakadi. The parents of these children are also being pressurized," said Ambedkar, who is the grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian Constitution.Ruling BJP ally Shiv Sena senior leader Neelam Gorhe sought an impartial probe into the incident by high-ranking officers to ensure justice to the victims.In a memorandum to Minister of State for Home (Rural) Deepak Kesarkar, she pointed out that attempts are being made to mislead the probe by showing an empty well instead of the full well where the boys went for a swim.Gorhe demanded that the lower police officials who did not immediately inform their superiors about the matter should be suspended.