A few days back, a news was published alleging that a 21-year-old Dalit man, Pradeep Rathod, was killed in Gujarat by upper caste men for owning and riding a horse in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. It was alleged by the man’s father that some Rajput men had held a grudge against his son since he purchased a horse about two months back and threatened to kill him if he didn’t sell off the horse.
The story quickly went viral on Twitter. Congress Twitter handles also shared the story, in an attempt to make it go viral.
The BJP must hang its head in shame. Is this the “Gujarat Model” it boasts of?https://t.co/eiqQXjvZfV
— Congress (@INCIndia) March 31, 2018
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, too, took a dig at BJP President Amit Shah over the story.
Shocking inhumanity towards Dalits in Gujarat!
Yet, a certain Gujarati gentleman comes here with a bag full of #Jumlas & promises heaven to Dalits. If they question him, they are branded as Cong goons.
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) March 31, 2018
It was ironic that Siddaramaiah shared this fake news considering just a few days ago, a website owner, Mahesh Hegde was arrested in Karnataka for spreading fake news. This irony wasn’t lost on people.
Couple of days after he unleashed his cops and arrested a website owner for ‘fake news’, the CM of the state himself peddling what has turned out to be a ‘fake news’. Leave alone equal application of law, he will get away even without an apology. https://t.co/CLeF5TFWtg
— Prasanna Viswanathan (@prasannavishy) April 1, 2018
However, the investigation by police has revealed that no evidence was found which proved that he was killed for keeping a horse.
No evidence found in primary investigation which proves he was killed for keeping a horse. There could have been some personal conflicts which may have led to his murder. Further investigation underway: Pravin Mal, Bhavnagar SP on Dalit youth Pradeep Rathod’s murder #Gujarat pic.twitter.com/gLhkcPoIQA
— ANI (@ANI) March 31, 2018
In fact, police claimed that he used to harass girls and villagers were angry with his activities and police suspect he may have been killed over that. Police claim that villagers had complained that Rathod used to perform stunts on horse and motorcycle whenever he confronted girls.
This is not the first time fake news was spread which could possibly bring about caste divide. Earlier also, weeks before Gujarat went to poll in December, a youth had claimed that he was stabbed by men because he was a Dalit and was sporting a moustache. However, a later investigation by the police had revealed that the youth had stabbed himself ‘just like that’.
It is interesting how such news about ‘Dalit atrocities’ come up whenever there is an election around the corner.