YSRCP MLC Sentenced to 18 Months in Jail for 1996 Assault on Dalit Youths

YSRCP MLC Thota Trimurthulu and 9 others sentenced to 18 months in jail for assaulting and tonsuring Dalit youths in 1996. Landmark judgment after 28-year struggle for justice.

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Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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YSRCP MLC Sentenced to 18 Months in Jail for 1996 Assault on Dalit Youths

YSRCP MLC Sentenced to 18 Months in Jail for 1996 Assault on Dalit Youths

A special court in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, has sentenced YSRCP MLC Thota Trimurthulu and nine others to 18 months in jail for tonsuring and assaulting five Dalit youths in 1996. The incident occurred on December 29, 1996, in Venkatayapalem village, Ramachandrapuram Mandal, in the current Konaseema district.

Trimurthulu, who was an independent MLA at the time, and eight other accused allegedly picked up the Dalit youths from the village, beat them up, and forcibly tonsured the heads and removed the eyebrows of two of them. The victims had been working as polling agents for the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) during the 1994 Assembly elections and had opposed poll rigging in favor of Trimurthulu.

The victims filed a complaint in 1997, but the case faced delays and was reopened in 2008 after a petition was filed in the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The special court convicted Trimurthulu and the others under various sections of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and Indian Penal Code. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 2.5 lakh on Trimurthulu and ordered compensation of Rs 1.20 lakh to the victims.

Why this matters: The landmark judgment comes 28 years after the incident and highlights the long struggle for justice faced by Dalit victims of caste-based violence. The case has seen the involvement of Dalit organizations and human rights groups who have been fighting for the rights of the victims.

Trimurthulu, who is currently the YSRCP candidate for the Mandapeta Assembly seat in the upcoming elections, approached the district court after the special court's verdict and was granted bail. He has stated that he will appeal the verdict in the High Court.

The victims and their families have welcomed the court's decision, though some feel the punishment should have been harsher given the severity of the crime. "We have been waiting for justice for over two and a half decades. The accused used their political influence to delay the case, which was adjourned 143 times," said one of the victims.

Key Takeaways

  • YSRCP MLC Thota Trimurthulu and 9 others sentenced to 18 months in jail for assaulting Dalit youths
  • Incident occurred in 1996 when victims opposed poll rigging in favor of Trimurthulu
  • Case faced delays but was reopened in 2008 after a petition to the High Court
  • Trimurthulu granted bail after conviction, plans to appeal verdict in High Court
  • Victims and families welcome verdict, but feel punishment should have been harsher