Santosh Kumar, a Dalit Journalist is on Dharna. Here is why

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On June 16, Santosh Kumar was allegedly assaulted by BJP leader and his henchmen. Now, the alleged assault is the centre of a political fight.

Santosh Kumar was allegedly assaulted on 26 June by BJP leader Yadvendra Pratap Singh. Yadvendra is the husband of Anamika Singh, the Pradhan village head of Swansa refuted the allegations. He claimed it was a conspiracy to settle political scores. 

The Incidents in June 

Santosh Kumar, a journalist working in Jaunpur, reported for Bahujan India 24 News on 25 June. The report claimed that police in Jaunpur’s Maharajaganj refused to file an FIR on Scheduled Caste man Ranjit Kumar’s complaint disregarding the law mandating the filing of a complaint.

Ranjit Kumar’s complaint was regarding casteist slurs used by six men from the village who also threatened to murder him. 

Santosh Kumar and his family escalated the matter to the police chief. They accused him of working at the behest of BJP leader Yadvendra Pratap Singh. 

The following day Yadvendra and his men allegedly assaulted Santosh. Santosh Kumar said regarding the incident, “I was targeted for a story about instances of attacks on Dalits under the BJP regime.” 

Earlier this year, Santosh’s wife Reshma contested in the Panchayat elections against Anamika Singh for the post of Gram Pradhan.

She was allegedly threatened by the Thakur caste and later attacked by a group of unknown men. Three months after the incident, Santosh was attacked. 

Events That Led to the Protest 

Santosh’s account, detailed in FIR, claims he and his family have been the target of Yadvendra Singh since before the Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections.

After the assault on him in June, he visited the police station to register a complaint. The police refused to file the complaint with the leader’s name in it. When Santosh refused to back down, the FIR was not registered. 

An FIR was registered against Thakur in mid-July, well over a fortnight after the alleged assault.

The charges included various IPC sections and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of ) Atrocities Act. Despite registering the FIR, police are yet to take action against Yadvendra.  

A letter to the state human rights commission, written by Reshma, alleges that Yadvendra Singh has implicated Santosh in false cases. Santosh has refuted these allegations. 

Over the past few months, Santosh, Reshma and other members of the Dalit community in the village and surrounding areas wrote to the police and administrative heads. The letters detailed the casteist violence they faced and asked for support and help. 

The Protest 

Time went by, but Yadvendra Singh continued to roam free despite the FIR, and the Dalit community continued to be the victim of abuses and harassment. Eventually, on 20 August, some of Yadvendra Singh’s associates came to Santosh’s house.

He described the events in the following words, “They locked my wife and children in and beat them brutally. My Whole family was attacked.” No further FIR was registered when he went to the police that day. 

That night, Santosh began his protest at the Jaunpur District Headquarters. He vowed to fast unto death with his family unless his demands are met.

The needs listed on a poster hanging behind him include – the arrest of Yadvendra Pratap Singh and his associates who have been accused in the life-threatening attack on the Dalit reporter, the false implications made on Santosh Kumar need to be withdrawn, a case should be registered against Yadvendra Singh and his associates for the second attack on Santosh’s home on 20 August. 

Allegations are flying from both parties detailing the other’s misdeeds. So far, the police haven’t made any arrests or updated the media on the progress of the investigation. Jaunpur, Maharajganj, has become the centre of an ugly political fight with no word from the authorities. 

Kavya Pragallapati
Kavya Pragallapati
An avid reader with a knack for researching niche issues and topics. Kavya is a writer focused on bringing unheard voices to the light. She believes there are multiple perspectives to everything and is not afraid to step back and reevaluate the larger picture.

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