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A Dalit man from Odisha’s Tikhiri village was allegedly forced to rub his nose in his spit in public after he refused to give Rs 500 Puja donation at the local temple. The incident was reported from the Kendrapara district.

The unemployed youth then lodged a police complaint against the sarpanch of the village.

Sources said the sarpanch of Tikhiri village, Chameli Ojha, visited the youth’s house, seeking donations for the temple. When the youth said he wouldn’t be able to offer any money as he had already donated for the idol, an argument broke out between him and the villagers who had accompanied the sarpanch. The sarpanch even allegedly abused the youth and his wife.

The next evening, a kangaroo court was convened by the sarpanch where the youth was summoned. There, he was forced to rub his nose in his spit or face ostracization. Left with no option, the youth complied.

Although the incident happened on Saturday, Marsaghai police registered a case on Tuesday against Chameli Ojha and a few villagers.

Marsaghai IIC Pradipta Kanungo told India Today that a case had been registered against Ojha and other accused under sections 143, 342, 323, 504 and 506 of the IPC and relevant sections of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. “We have recorded statements of around 60 villagers. Further investigation is underway,” he said.

A village source said there was political motivation behind the incident. In the last panchayat elections, the youth’s wife had contested against Chameli Ojha. However, Chameli won the polls. “Since then, the youth has been harbouring a grudge against Ojha. This complaint is just to harass him,”

“To settle personal scores, the sarpanch convened a village meeting and pitted the villagers against our family to ostracise us. To avoid the punishment, my father had to apologise even if we hadn’t done any wrong,” said the victim’s son.

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India today