“You are a Bhovi (a Dalit community in Karnataka). Your place is at the feet of Vokkaligas (a politically dominant upper caste in Karnataka),” Sub Inspector of Bethamangala Police Station Honne Gowda tells a youth whilst beating him with a cane.
Chilling visuals of police brutality and caste-based discrimination has come to light in Karnataka’s Kolar Gold Fields area. Sub Inspector Honne Gowda is seen beating, bullying, verbally and physically harassing a 28-year-old Dalit man.
“You want Vokkaliga women? Don’t you know your place? You people, you Bhovis must be beaten black and blue. Then, you will learn a lesson,” Honne Gowd says as he begins slapping the man.
The Sub Inspector then walks around the police station with a lathi in his hand whilst reciting all the forms of torture he would like to inflict on the man. “I know of a time when two police officers were staring at a distance from each other. They made the suspect run from one person to another while he had to beg for mercy. When he turned from one police officer to another, he was beaten with a cane. The same should be done to you,” Honne Gowda declares. He then walks up to the man and begins beating him with the lathi once more.
“You Bhovi, don’t you know your place is at the feet of Vokkaligas. What business do you have talking to Vokkaliga girls,” Honne Gowd says.
In another chilling video, Honne Gowda is seen intimidating a 45-year-old man from the Bhovi community. Honne Gowda, who was under the influence of alcohol and was wearing civilian clothes while carrying out an interrogation of a suspect. He forces the man to take off his pants. He then begins playing a song “Roja Roja” from a Telugu film and demands that the suspect dance to the song.
“Dance. Yes, dance now,” Honne Gowda shouts. The man is seen begging Honne Gowda to not hurt him. The SI then begins kicking the man with his boots while verbally abusing him.
The videos were recorded by Honne Gowda’s colleague, another officer attached to the Bethamangala Police Station. According to police sources, Honne Gowda, a Vokkaliga himself allegedly has a history of targeting members of the Dalit community. “He gets drunk at night and comes to interrogate suspects. Most of the time, he ends up beating the suspects,” a police officer attached with the Bethamangala Police Station told TNM on condition of anonymity.
The source said that the two men were detained by Honne Gowda last week. “Both of them are from the Ramasagara village. Sometime last week, there was a disagreement between members of the Vokkaliga and Bhovi community. This was regarding the Dalit men being in relationships with women from the Vokkaliga community. Honne Gowda was sent to sort out the disagreement. He then rounded up the two men and brought them to the station,” the officer added.
Speaking to TNM, KGF SP Lokesh Kumar said that the issue has been brought to his notice and an internal investigation has been launched. “It has come to my notice and we are conducting an inquiry. I have assigned one DySP to the investigation based on his report, we will decide the future course of action. Beating suspects is wrong and it is not tolerated in the police department,” SP Lokesh added.