Jagadeesha Gowda, a coffee plantation owner, was booked on Tuesday for assaulting and locking up 16 Dalit workers from his coffee plantation in Karnataka's Chikmagalur over money they had borrowed from him.
The issue came to light when the workers approached the police with the complaint. The police booked Gowda and his son Tilak Gowda, but no arrests have been made yet.
The video of the incident was shared widely on social media calling Gowda a BJP worker, but the BJP has denied it.
The police filed an FIR on the basis of a complaint by a 20-year-old worker Arpitha. The Hindu reported that the FIR was filed under sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 2015 at the Balehonnur police station.
This was after Gowda locked up the workers on October 8.
The complainant and her colleagues were daily wage workers at the coffee plantation. Superintendent of Police Uma Prashanth told The New Indian Express, "We have registered a case based on the video that went viral. We have taken up an investigation. Further details will be known during the course of investigation."
What has the BJP said?
As the news of the assault was widely shared on social media, the BJP denied that Gowda was part of the party.
NDTV quoted Varasiddhi Venugopal, BJP district spokesperson, as saying, "Neither is Jagadeesha a party worker nor a member. He's just a BJP supporter. He is just like any other voter."
Why did Arptiha lose her baby?
Arpitha is said to have been two months pregnant and lost her baby due as she was beaten up by Gowda. Arpitha's mother was quoted by NDTV as saying, "I was kept under house arrest for one day. I was beaten up and verbally abused. He had confiscated my phone."
Arpitha wasn't the only one. Gowda also assaulted two other workers who tried to rescue her.
The New Indian Express reported that Arpitha complained of stomach pain and was taken to a private hospital on October 9 and then to the District Hospital in Chikkamagaluru.
Arpitha is still undergoing treatment.
Why were the workers locked up?
The workers had allegedly borrowed Rs 9 lakh from Gowda and had not repaid the owner. The Indian Express quoted Ashok, a relative of Arpitha as saying Gowda locked them up as he was angry that the loan had not been repaid.
The New Indian Express report said that there was another scuffle over two weeks ago between the workers and Gowda. Hence they decided not to work there anymore.
The Hindu reported that the owner wanted them to return the money before they left the plantation, and snatched away their phones too.
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