Bhima Koregaon Violence: 19-Year-Old Witness Found Dead in a Well

A 19-year-old Dalit woman, whose house had been burnt down during the violence at Bhima Koregaon in Pune district earlier in 2018, was found dead in a well on Sunday.

The body of Pooja Sakat, who belonged to a Dalit community, was found in a well near her house in Bhima Koregaon village on Sunday morning.

A day earlier, her family had registered a complaint that she was missing, a senior police officer said.

According to a Times of India report, Pooja had witnessed her house-cum-hotel being torched by the mob during the Bhima Koregaon violence.

Her family alleged that some persons, whom she had named as culprits in her statement to the police after the violence, were threatening and pressurising her to withdraw her statement.

Speaking to ToI, her brother Jaideep said:

"We informed the Shikrapur police after Pooja went missing on Saturday afternoon. The well, where her body was found, is about 2 km from Bhima Koregaon. We suspect that she may have been compelled by local villagers to end her life, or she may have been pushed into the well."

He further told the daily that his sister had left home on Saturday evening to visit someone in the village.

The police registered a case of abetment of suicide under IPC section 306 and offences under the Scheduled Castes And Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, but no one has been arrested yet, the officer said, while not disclosing the accused's names.

There were no injury marks on her body, the officer said. No suicide note was recovered, and further probe was on, he added.

Dalits visiting the War Memorial at Bhima Koregaon for commemorating the bicentenary of an 1818 victory of the East India Company over the Peshwa's forces came under attack on 1 January 2018. One person was killed and property worth crores of rupees was damaged.

Sakat family's house was burnt during the violence, and the family is living in a rented house since then, the police officer said.

Dalit groups commemorate the 1818 battle as the East India Company's army consisted of Mahars, a Dalit community, who defeated the upper-caste Peshwa's forces. However, some Hindutva organisations had opposed the commemoration this time.

(With inputs from PTI)

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