GANDHINAGAR – A man from the Dalit, the lower caste in Indian Hindu society, has died after being attacked while attending a celebration of the Hindu festival of Navratri in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
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Eight men have been arrested for attacking Jayesh Solanki, 21, on Sunday, authorities said on Monday.
Solanki, a member of the marginalized Dalit group formerly known as the “untouchables,” went to watch performances of Garba with his cousin, Prakash, in a village in the Anand district, which is located in Gujarat in Western India.
Garba is a popular dance performed with sticks and is part of the nine-day Navratri festival that honours the Hindu warrior goddess Durga.
Prakash told reporters in India that the upper caste men of the Patel community approached their group and demanded to know why they were there before making derogatory “caste-based abuses.” The men later told Prakash’s group they had no right to watch Garba in which upper caste members were participating.
Police said they have also provided security to Solanki’s family who fear they might be attacked by upper caste men for pursuing a case against the accused.
Despite laws to protect them, discrimination remains a daily reality for India’s 200 million Dalits.
Dalits have traditionally been at the bottom of the Hindu caste system. They have been subjugated by the higher castes for centuries.