A couple belonging to the Dalit or low-caste community were hacked to death over a 15-rupee (22 cent) debt in North India, the police said on Friday. An upper-caste grocer, Ashok Mishra, has been arrested for the murders of Bharat Singh and his wife Meena in Uttar Pradesh state’s Mainpuri district on Thursday.
The couple had stopped at a shop to buy biscuits when the grocer confronted them and demanded money, district police chief Dev Ranjan Verma said. “When the two plead for some more time to pay, the grocer flew into a rage. “Witnesses said Mishra kept shouting for his money and in a furious state picked up an axe lying nearby to attack the couple.
“Both died on the spot after the murders, he panicked and hid in his house until police arrested him. ,” Verma said. The police said that there was tension in the area following protests by the Dalit community and additional security was deployed to prevent any violence. Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, are at the lowest rank in India’s caste system.
The killings come at a time when atrocities against Dalits are being aggressively debated by political parties in India. India’s constitution bars discrimination against the Dalits but incidents of torture and murders of people from the community are reported regularly.
Recently, four Dalit men were beaten for skinning a dead cow. Hindus regard cows as holy and their slaughter is banned in several Indian states.