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MANSA – A Dalit man was brutally murdered and mutilated, allegedly by the liquor mafia, in Punjab’s Mansa district, India.

According to witnesses, 20-year-old Sukhchain was beaten with iron rods and attacked with sharp weapons on Monday. “They broke his legs, slashed his stomach with and chopped off his leg,” Gurjant Singh, a local leader, reported NDTV.

His body was found in the house of one of the six men accused in the murder.

Read More: More than 200 Dalits leave Hinduism and convert to ‘caste-less’ Buddhism in India

The family had initially refused postmortem and cremation, demanding that the police restore the missing leg. In the evening, the police said the severed limb was found in nearby fields.

Sukhchain’s brother Sukhbir said: “The accused enjoy government patronage. They are relatives of our village sarpanch, who is an Akali leader. So the police are not acting against them.”

Read More: Dalit beheaded in India for being ‘impure’ and using flour mill

A similar incident was reported in the state in December, when a Dalit man, Bheem Tank, was attacked in Abohar and his limbs were chopped off. The police later filed case against a local Akali leader in the case.

A senior leader of the opposition Congress said, “In a planned manner, goons are released on parole to terrorise the poor and downtrodden to create fear among them so as to get their votes”.

Earlier on Tuesday, more than 200 Dalits converted to Buddhism at three programmes in Gujarat. Many of them claimed that the Una flogging incident  was behind their decision to convert.

“We were thinking of converting to Buddhism for the past six months. The Una incident cleared our doubts,” said Sangeeta Parmar (26) from New Naroda area of Ahmedabad, who was one of those who converted, Times of India reported.

Recently, a teacher beheaded a 35-year-old Dalit man accused of rendering a flour mill “impure” by using it before the upper caste villagers in Uttarakhand’s Bageshwar district .

Dalits or “untouchables” are commonly assigned with menial jobs under India’s deeply entrenched social hierarchy.

Concept of ‘untouchability’ has been outlawed in India but many Hindus still believe that contact with a person of low caste will render them impure.

Dalits form 16.6 per cent of the national population or roughly 200 million but continue to face oppression six decades after India banned caste discrimination.