16 Dalits Locked Up on Coffee Plantation for Days, Pregnant Woman Loses Baby After ‘Assault’

A man known to be a staunch BJP supporter from Karnataka allegedly kept 16 Dalit daily wage workers under house arrest for at least 15 days on his coffee plantation. One of them, a pregnant woman, lost her baby after an alleged assault by him.

According to a report by NDTV, the incident took place in Chikkamagaluru district and a case has been registered under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against Jagadeesha Gowda and his son Tilak Gowda, who are on the run. The woman is undergoing treatment at a hospital, as per police. The woman told NDTV over the phone that she was two months’ pregnant and the owner had confiscated her mobile phone. She was kept under house arrest for one day, and was beaten up as well as verbally abused.

The BJP, however, has distanced itself from the incident saying Jagadeesha is neither a member or a worker but just like any other voter. “Neither is Jagadeesh a party worker nor a member. He’s just a BJP supporter. He is just like any other voter,” a BJP official was quoted as saying in the NDTV report.

Chikkamagaluru district SP Uma Prashanth said the workers had borrowed money from Jagadeesha. Police said the 16 Dalit people were locked up as they had failed to repay a loan amounting to Rs 9 lakh. They were all employed as daily wage workers at the coffee plantation in Jenugadde village, police added.

“On October 8, a few people came to Balehonnur police station, alleging their relatives were being tortured by Jagadeesh Gowda. But later that day, they withdrew the complaint,” a senior police officer was quoted as saying by NDTV.

Police further said when the pregnant woman was admitted to a district hospital, a fresh complaint was lodged with Chikkamagaluru’s police chief. An investigating officer said when he visited the spot, he saw eight to 10 people locked up inside a room, who were released after the owner was questioned.

“They were kept under house arrest for the last 15 days. There are four families, which includes 16 members, and all belong to Scheduled Castes. According to the complainant, all 16 were kept under house arrest,” the officer was quoted as saying.

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