Crime & Justice

Head of provincial government in India apologizes after hate crime against tribal man

New Delhi, Jul 5 (EFE).- The chief minister of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, on Thursday visited the house of a tribal man and washed his feet as a gesture of apology, days after the video of an “upper-caste” man urinating on the indigenous person went viral and triggered widespread outrage.

Chouhan tweeted a video in which he can be seen pouring water over the man’s feet and rubing them.

“Atrocities would not be tolerated against anybody. The honor of every citizen of the state is my honor,” added Chouhan, referring to the tribal man as “Sudama,” a character in Hindu mythology who is poor, but a dear friend of the god Krishna.

As per the myth, Krishna had washed the feet of Sudama as a mark of respect and affection and to cure him of the boils he had developed due to walking barefoot.

Later, the Chouhan and the man targeted in the hate crime continued the unusual encounter by planting a tree and eating together, as the chief minister repeatedly apologized for the crime.

The visit comes after the arrest of the accused, whose house was also demolished by authorities as part of an exemplary “instant” justice that has become common in several Indian states in recent months.

The incident had triggered anger across the country, as the accused came from the privileged “Brahmin” community – traditionally considered the highest caste in Hinduism – and was reportedly linked with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which is also in power in the state, led by Chouhan.

The tribals or indigenous communities often face both economic and social discrimination in the layered and hierarchical Indian society, along with Dalits, formerly known as “untouchables.”

Although the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is in place to protect these marginalized communities and carries stringent measures, hate-crimes based on caste have continued to take place across the country.

According to data for the year 2020, provided by the National Crime Records Bureau, Madhya Pradesh registered the highest crimes against tribal people. EFE


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