Bengaluru: Police remained deployed at Kanchanahalli village in Bengaluru rural district after a clash broke out between two groups on Sunday night. The incident took place in Nelamangala taluk of the district when a group of people from a Scheduled Tribe (ST) community were allegedly beaten up after they refused to play drums for a Ganesh Chaturthi immersion procession as asked by upper caste Hindus. Four members of the Vokkaliga community have been arrested.
According to a complaint filed by one of the victims, members of the Thalavaararu community were asked to play drums "like they always did in the past" during the immersion procession. "We said we have no value or respect for this and hence, we refuse to continue to do this. Soon after, they started abusing us and later assaulted us,” said the complainant. This act of playing the drums that is done during different occasions is known as 'Thalavaarike'.
“It was around 8pm when the clash broke out. When we refused to play the drums, they said we will discuss about it. But then they called us aside and beat us up. Our previous generation used to do it. Why should we do the same when we don't want such a tradition to continue? At least future generations should not be forced to do all this. Nothing of this sort happens in any of the neighbouring villages. Then why should such a rule continue here? Don't we have the right to live just like them?” said Narasimamurthy, who was admitted to a hospital after the clash.
On Monday, the district deputy commissioner, superintendent of police, assistant commissioner, tahsildars and social welfare department officials visited the spot. The ritual of beating drums is accompanied with most occasions, including birth, death and marriages. Although caste-based jobs have been officially abolished, certain rituals like this one continue to be associated with one caste group and members of particular communities are called to accomplish the task by others.
"We have deputed our personnel in the village. One officer will be there round the clock. We are yet to arrest all of them. We have video footage of the incident. There is a similar situation in neighbouring one or two villages. I have asked my officers to visit there as well. The clash occurred after arguments over the ritual of beating drums. It is an age-old tradition usually done by one community, but today’s youth are educated and know that they are equal in the eyes of law. Hence, they refused,” said Ravi D Channannavar, Superintendent of Police, Bengaluru Rural.
More than 10 people from the Vokkaliga community have been named in the case registered under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Of them, four men, identified as Thimmegowda, Sashidhara, Manjunatha, Anjanappa, have been arrested.
(With inputs from Abhishek DR from Nelamangala.)